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THE LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S 
MEMORY 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NBW YORK BOSTON - CHICAGO DALLAS 
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY - CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 



THE LONG ROAD OF 
WOMAN'S MEMORY 



BY 



JANE ADDAMS 

AUTHOR OF "TWENTY YEARS AT HULL HOUSE" 

"THE SPIRIT OF YOUTH AND THE 

CITY STREETS," ETC. 



Nefo gorfc 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1916 

AU rights reserved 



COPYRIGHT, 1916, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1916. 



J. 8. Gushing Co. Berwick A Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 



TO MY DEAR FRIEND 

MARY H. WILMARTH 

WHOSE MEMORY STORED WITH THE BEST IN LITERATURE 

AND WHOSE FINE PUBLIC SPIRIT ARE DAILY PLACED 

AT THE SERVICE OF HER FRIENDS AND OF 

HER CITY, WITH A GALLANT AND 

GENTLE COURTESY 






CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION ....... ix 

I. WOMEN'S MEMORIES TRANSMUTING THE PAST, 

AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE STORY OF THE 

DEVIL BABY ..... I 
II. WOMEN'S MEMORIES REACTING ON LIFE, AS 

ILLUSTRATED BY THE STORY OF THE DfiVIL 

BABY 25 

III. WOMEN'S MEMORIES DISTURBING CONVEN- 

TIONS . . . . . -53 

IV. WOMEN'S MEMORIES INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 84 
V. WOMEN'S MEMORIES CHALLENGING WAR . 115 

VI. A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN INTERPRETATIVE 

MEMORY ...... 141 



INTRODUCTION 

FOR many years at Hull-House I have at 
intervals detected in certain old people, when 
they spoke of their past experiences, a tendency 
to an idealization, almost to a romanticism sug- 
gestive of the ardent dreams and groundless 
ambitions we have all observed in the young 
when they recklessly lay their plans for the 
future. 

I have, moreover, been frequently impressed 
by the fact that these romantic revelations were 
made by old people who had really suffered 
much hardship and sorrow, and that the trans- 
mutation of their experiences was not the result 
of ignoring actuality, but was apparently due to 
a power inherent in memory itself. 

It was therefore a great pleasure when I 
found this aspect of memory delightfully por- 
trayed by Sir Gilbert Murray in his life of 
Euripides. He writes that the aged poet, 
when he was officially made one of the old men 
of Athens, declared that he could transmute 

ix 



x INTRODUCTION 

into song traditional tales of sorrow and wrong- 
doing because, being long past, they had al- 
ready become part mystery and part music : 
" Memory, that Memory who is the Mother 
of the Muses, having done her work upon 
them." 

Here was an explanation which I might have 
anticipated ; it was the Muses again at their 
old tricks, the very mother of them this 
time, thrusting their ghostly fingers into the 
delicate fabric of human experience to the ex- 
treme end of life. I had known before that 
the Muses -foregathered with the Spirit of 
Youth and I had even made a feeble attempt 
to portray that companionship, but I was stupid 
indeed not to see that they are equally at home 
with the aged whose prosaic lives sadly need 
such interference. 

Even with this clue in my hands, so preoc- 
cupied are we all with our own practical affairs, 
I probably should never have followed it, had 
it not been for the visit of a mythical Devil 
Baby who so completely filled Hull-House 
with old women coming to see him, that for a 
period of six weeks I could perforce do little 
but give them my attention. 



INTRODUCTION xi 

When this excitement had subsided and I 
had written down the corroboration afforded by 
their eager recitals in the first two chapters of 
this book, I might have supposed myself to be 
rid of the matter, incidentally having been 
taught once more that, while I may receive 
valuable suggestions from classic literature, 
when I really want to learn about life, I must 
depend upon my neighbors, for, as William 
James insists, the most instructive human doc- 
uments lie along the beaten pathway. 

The subject, however, was not so easily dis- 
posed of, for certain elderly women among 
these selfsame neighbors disconcertingly took 
quite another line from that indicated by 
Euripides. To my amazement, their remi- 
niscences revealed an additional function of 
memory, so aggressive and withal so modern, 
that it was quite impossible, living as I was in 
a Settlement with sociological tendencies, to 
ignore it. 

It was gradually forced upon my attention 
that these reminiscences of the aged, even while 
softening the harsh realities of the past, exer- 
cise a vital power of selection which often 
necessitates an onset against the very traditions 



xii INTRODUCTION 

and conventions commonly believed to find 
their stronghold in the minds of elderly people. 
Such reminiscences suggested an analogy to 
the dreams of youth which, while covering the 
future with a shifting rose-colored mist, contain 
within themselves the inchoate substance from 
which the tough-fibred forces of coming social 
struggles are composed. 

In the light of this later knowledge, I was 
impelled to write the next two chapters of this 
book, basing them upon conversations held 
with various women of my acquaintance whose 
experience in family relationships or in the 
labor market had so forced their conduct to a 
variation from the accepted type that there 
emerged an indication of a selective groping 
toward another standard. They inevitably sug- 
gested that a sufficient number of similar varia- 
tions might even, in Memory's leisurely fashion 
of upbuilding tradition, in the end establish a 
new norm. 

Some of these women, under the domination 
of that mysterious autobiographical impulse 
which makes it more difficult to conceal the 
truth than to avow it, purged their souls in all 
sincerity and unconsciously made plain the part 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

borne in their hard lives by monstrous social 
injustices. 

These conversations proved to be so illus- 
trative of my second thesis that it seemed 
scarcely necessary to do more than record them. 
The deduction was obvious that mutual remi- 
niscences perform a valuable function in de- 
termining analogous conduct for large bodies 
of people who have no other basis for like- 
mindedness. 

So gradual is this process, so unconsciously 
are these converts under Memory's gentle 
coercion brought into a spiritual fellowship, 
that the social changes thus inaugurated, at least 
until the reformers begin to formulate them 
and to accelerate the process through propa- 
ganda, take on the aspect of beneficent natural 
phenomena. And yet, curiously enough, I 
found that the two functions of Memory first, 
its important role in interpreting and appeasing 
life for the individual, and second its activity 
as a selective agency in social reorganization 
were not mutually exclusive, and at moments 
seemed to support each other. Certain con- 
versations even suggested that the selective 
process itself might be held responsible for the 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

softened outlines of the past to one looking 
back, by the natural blurring of nonessentials 
and the consequent throwing into high relief 
of common human experiences. 

The insistence of Memory upon the great 
essentials, even to the complete sacrifice of its 
inherent power to appease, was most poignantly 
brought to my attention during two months I 
spent in Europe in the summer of 1915. 
Desolated women, stripped by war of all their 
warm domestic interests and of children long 
cherished in affectionate solicitude, sat shelter- 
less in the devastating glare of Memory. Be- 
cause by its pitiless light they were forced to 
look into the black depths of primitive human 
nature, occasionally one of these heart-broken 
women would ignore the strident claims of the 
present and would insist that the war was cut- 
ting at the very taproots of the basic human 
relations so vitally necessary to the survival of 
civilization. I cannot hope to have adequately 
reproduced in Chapter V those conversations 
which themselves partook of the grim aspect 
of war. 

It was during this cataclysmic summer in 
Europe that I sometimes sought for a solace, 



INTRODUCTION xv 

or at least for a source of sanity, by resting my 
mind on the immemorial monuments of ancient 
Egypt, from which I had once received an 
almost mystic assurance of the essential unity 
of man's age-long spiritual effort. But because 
such guarding of continuity as Egypt had 
afforded me had been associated with an unex- 
pected revival of childish recollections, I found 
that Memory was a chief factor also in this 
situation. Therefore, in spite of the fact that 
these reminiscences of my childhood were 
vividly resuscitated in Egypt by a process 
which postulates a reversal of the one described 
in the first two chapters of this book, I venture 
to incorporate my personal experience in the 
last chapter. It may suggest one more of our 
obligations to Memory, that Protean Mother, 
who first differentiated primitive man from the 
brute ; who makes possible our complicated 
modern life so daily dependent on the experi- 
ences of the past ; and upon whom at the 
present moment is thrust the sole responsi- 
bility of guarding, for future generations, our 
common heritage of mutual good-will. 



THE LONG ROAD OF 
WOMAN'S MEMORY 



CHAPTER I 

WOMEN'S MEMORIES TRANSMUTING THE 
PAST, AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE STORY OF 
THE DEVIL BABY 

QUITE as it would be hard for any one of 
us to select the summer in which he ceased 
to live that life, so ardent in childhood and 
early youth, when all the real happenings 
are in the future, so it must be difficult 
for old people to tell at what period they 
began to regard the present chiefly as a 
prolongation of the past. There is no 
doubt, however, that such instinctive shift- 
ings and reversals have taken place for 
many old people who, under the control of 
Memory, are actually living much more in 
the past than in the ephemeral present. 



2 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

It is most fortunate, therefore, that in 
some subtle fashion these old people, re- 
viewing the long road they have travelled, 
are able to transmute their own untoward 
experiences into that which seems to make 
even the most wretched life acceptable. 
This may possibly be due to an instinct of 
self-preservation, which checks the devastat- 
ing bitterness that would result did they 
recall over and over again the sordid detail 
of events long past ; it is even possible that 
those people who were not able thus to 
inhibit their bitterness have died earlier, 
for as one old man recently reminded me, 
"It is a true word that worry can kill a 
cat." 

This permanent and elemental function 
of Memory was graphically demonstrated 
at Hull-House during a period of several 
weeks when we were reported to be harbor- 
ing within its walls a so-called "Devil 
Baby." 

The knowledge of his existence burst 
upon the residents of Hull-House one day 
when three Italian women, with an excited 
rush through the door, demanded that he 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 3 

be shown to them. No amount of denial 
convinced them that he was not there, for 
they knew exactly what he was like with 
his cloven hoofs, his pointed ears and dimin- 
utive tail ; the Devil Baby had, moreover, 
been able to speak as soon as he was born 
and was most shockingly profane. 

The three women were but the forerunners 
of a veritable multitude ; for six weeks from 
every part of the city and suburbs the 
streams of visitors to this mythical baby 
poured in all day long and so far into the 
night that the regular activities of the set- 
tlement were almost swamped. 

The Italian version, with a hundred 
variations, dealt with a pious Italian girl 
married to an atheist. Her husband in a 
rage had torn a holy picture from the bed- 
room wail saying that he would quite as soon 
have a devil in the house as such a thing, 
whereupon the devil incarnated himself in 
her coming child. As soon as the Devil 
Baby was born, he ran about the table 
shaking his finger in deep reproach at his 
father, who finally caught him and, in fear 
and trembling, brought him to Hull-House. 



4 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

When the residents there, in spite of the 
baby's shocking appearance, wishing to save 
his soul, took him to church for baptism, 
they found that the shawl was empty and 
the Devil Baby, fleeing from the holy water, 
was running lightly over the backs of the 
pews. 

The Jewish version, again with varia- 
tions, was to the effect that the father of 
six daughters had said before the birth of a 
seventh child that he would rather have a 
devil in the family than another girl, where- 
upon the Devil Baby promptly appeared. 

Save for a red automobile which occasion- 
ally figured in the story and a stray cigar 
which, in some versions, the new-born child 
had snatched from his father's lips, the 
tale might have been fashioned a thousand 
years ago. 

Although the visitors to the Devil Baby 
included persons of every degree of pros- 
perity and education, even physicians and 
trained nurses, who assured us of their sci- 
entific interest, the story constantly demon- 
strated the power of an old wives' tale 
among thousands of men and women in 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 5 

modern society who are living in a corner 
of their own, their vision fixed, their intelli- 
gence held by some iron chain of silent habit. 
To such primitive people the metaphor ap- 
parently is still the very " stuff of life," 
or rather no other form of statement reaches 
them ; the tremendous tonnage of current 
writing for them has no existence./ It was 
in keeping with their simple habits that the 
reputed presence of the Devil Baby should 
not reach the newspapers until the fifth 
week of his sojourn at Hull-House after 
thousands of people had already been in- 
formed of his whereabouts by the old method 
of passing news from mouth to mouth. 

For six weeks as I went about the 
house, I would hear a voice at the telephone 
repeating for the hundredth time that day, 
"No, there is no such baby"; "No, we 
never had it here"; "No, he couldn't 
have seen it for fifty cents"; "We didrrt 
send it anywhere, because we never had 
it"; "I don't mean to say that your 
sister-in-law lied, but there must be some 
mistake" ; "There is no use getting up an 
excursion from Milwaukee, for there isn't 



6 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

any Devil Baby at Hull-House"; "We 
can't give reduced rates, because we are 
not exhibiting anything" ; and so on and 
on. As I came near the front door, I would * 
catch snatches of arguments that were 
often acrimonious: "Why do you let so 
many people believe it, if it isn't here?" 
"We have taken three lines of cars to come 
and we have as much right to see it as 
anybody else"; "This is a pretty big 
place, of course you could hide it easy 
enough" ; "What are you saying that for, 
are you going to raise the price of admis- 
sion ?" 

We had doubtless struck a case of what 
the psychologists call the "contagion of 
emotion" added to that "aesthetic socia- 
bility" which impels any one of us to drag 
the entire household to the window when 
a procession comes into the street or a 
rainbow appears in the sky. The Devil, 
Baby of course was worth many proces- 
sions and rainbows, and I will confess that, 
as the empty show went on day after day, 
I quite revolted against such a vapid mani- 
festation of even an admirable human 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 7 

trait. There was always one exception, 
however ; whenever I heard the high eager 
voices of old women, I was irresistibly inter- 
ested and left anything I might be doing 
in order to listen to them. As I came down 
the stairs, long before I could hear what 
they were saying, implicit in their solemn 
and portentous old voices came the ad- 
monition : 



1 Wilt thou reject the past 
Big with deep warnings ? " 



It was a very serious and genuine matter 
with the old women, this story so ancient 
and yet so contemporaneous, and they 
flocked to Hull-House from every direc- 
tion ; those I had known for many years, 
others I had never known and some whom 
I had supposed to be long dead. But they 
were all alive and eager ; something in the 
story or in its mysterious sequences had 
aroused one of those active forces in human 
nature which does not take orders, but 
insists only upon giving them. We had 
abruptly come in contact with a living and 
self-assertive human quality ! 



8 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

During the weeks of excitement it was 
the old women who really seemed to have 
come into their own, and perhaps the most 
significant result of the incident was the 
reaction of the story upon them. It stirred 
their minds and memories as with a magic 
touch, it loosened their tongues and revealed 
the inner life and thoughts of those who are 
so often inarticulate. They are accustomed 
to sit at home and to hear the younger 
members of the family speak of affairs 
quite outside their own experiences, some- 
times in a language they do not understand, 
and at best in quick glancing phrases 
which they cannot follow ; " More than 
half the time I can't tell what they are 
talking about," is an oft-repeated complaint. 
The story of the Devil Baby evidently 
put into their hands the sort of material with 
which they were accustomed to deal. They 
had long used such tales in their unremitting 
efforts at family discipline, ever since they 
had frightened their first children into awed 
silence by tales of bugaboo men who prowled 
in the darkness. 

These old women enjoyed a moment of 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 9 

triumph as if they had made good at 
last and had come into a region of sanc- 
tions and punishments which they under- 
stood. Years of living had taught them 
that recrimination with grown-up children 
and grandchildren is worse than useless, 
that punishments are impossible, that .do- 
mestic instruction is best given through 
tales and metaphors-. 

As the old women talked with the new 
volubility which the story of the Devil 
Baby had released in them, going back 
into their long memories and urging its 
credibility upon me, the story seemed to 
condense that mystical wisdom which be- 
comes deposited in the heart of man by 
unnoticed innumerable experiences. 

Perhaps my many conversations with 
these aged visitors crystallized thoughts 
and impressions I had been receiving 
through years, or the tale itself may have 
ignited a fire, as it were, whose light il- 
lumined some of my darkest memories of 
neglected and uncomfortable old age, of 
old peasant women who had ruthlessly 
probed into the ugly depths of human na- 



10 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

ture in themselves and others. Many of 
them who came to see the Devil Baby had 
been forced to face tragic experiences, the 
powers of brutality and horror had had 
full scope in their lives and for years they 
had had acquaintance with disaster and 
death. Such old women do not shirk life's 
misery by feeble idealism, for they are 
long past the stage of make-believe. They 
relate without flinching the most hideous 
experiences: "My face has had this queer 
twist for now nearly sixty years ; I was 
ten when it got that way, the night after 
I saw my father do my mother to death 
with his knife." ;< Yes, I had fourteen 
children ; only two grew to be men and 
both of them were killed in the same ex- 
plosion. I was never sure they brought 
home the right bodies." But even the 
most hideous sorrows which the old women 
related had apparently subsided into the 
paler emotion of ineffectual regret, after 
Memory had long done her work upon 
them ; the old people seemed, in some un- 
accountable way, to lose all bitterness and 
resentment against life, or rather to be so 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST II 

completely without it that they must have 
lost it long since. 

None of them had a word of blame for 
undutiful children or heedless grandchil- 
dren, because apparently the petty and 
transitory had fallen away from their 
austere old age, the fires were burnt out, 
resentments, hatreds, and even cherished 
sorrows had become actually unintelligible. 

Perhaps those women, because they had 
come to expect nothing more from life and 
had perforce ceased from grasping and 
striving, had obtained, if not renunciation, 
at least that quiet endurance which al- 
lows the wounds of the spirit to heal. 
Through their stored-up habit of acquies- 
cence, they offered a fleeting glimpse of 
the translucent wisdom, so often embodied 
in the old, but so difficult to portray. It 
is doubtless what Michael Angelo had in 
mind when he made the Sybils old, what 
Dante meant by the phrase "those who 
had learned of life," and the age-worn 
minstrel who turned into song a Memory 
which was more that of history and tra- 
dition than his own. 



12 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

In contrast to the visitors to the Devil 
Baby who spoke only such words of groping 
wisdom as they were able, were other old 
women who, although they had already 
reconciled themselves to much misery, were 
still enduring more : "You might say it's a 
disgrace to have your son beat you up for 
the sake of a bit of money youVe earned 
by scrubbing your own man is different 
but I haven't the heart to blame the boy 
for doing what he's seen all his life, his 
father forever went wild when the drink 
was in him and struck me to the very 
day of his death. The ugliness was born 
in the boy as the marks of the Devil was 
born in the poor child up-stairs." 

Some of these old women had struggled 
for weary years with poverty and much 
childbearing, had known what it was to be 
bullied and beaten by their husbands, 
neglected and ignored by their prosperous 
children, and burdened by the support of 
the imbecile and the shiftless ones. They 
had literally gone "Deep written all their 
days with care." 

One old woman actually came from the 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 13 

poorhouse, having heard of the Devil Baby 
"through a lady from Polk Street visiting 
an old friend who has a bed in our ward." 
It was no slight achievement for the penni- 
less and crippled old inmate to make her 
escape. She had asked "a young bar-keep 
in a saloon across the road" to lend her ten 
cents, offering as security the fact that she 
was an old /acquaintance at Hull-House who 
could not be refused so slight a loan. She 
marvelled at some length over the -good- 
ness of the young man, for she had not had 
a dime to spend for a drink for the. last six 
months, and he and the conductor: had 
been obliged to lift her into the street car 
by main strength. She was naturally much 
elated over the achievement of her escape. 
To be sure, from the men's side, they were 
always walking off in the summer and 
taking to the road, living like tramps they 
did, in a way no one from the woman's 
side would demean herself to do ; but to 
have left in a street car like a lady, with 
money to pay her own fare, was quite a 
different matter, although she .was, indeed 
"clean wore out" by the effort. However, 



14 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

it was clear that she would consider herself 
well repaid by a sight of the Devil Baby 
and that not only the inmates of her own 
ward, but those in every other ward in the 
house would be made to "sit up" when she 
got back ; it would liven them all up a bit, 
and she hazarded the guess that she would 
have to tell them about that baby at least 
a dozen times a day. 

As. she cheerfully rambled on, we weakly 
postponed telling her there was no Devil 
Baby, first that she might have a cup of 
tea and rest, and then through a sheer de- 
sire to withhold a blow from a poor old 
body who had received so many through- 
out a long, hard life. 

As I recall those unreal weeks, it was in 
her presence that I found myself for the 
first time vaguely wishing . that I could 
administer comfort by the simple device of 
not asserting too dogmatically that the 
Devil Baby had never been, at Hull-House. 

Our guest recalled with great pride that 
her grandmother had possessed second 
sight ; that her mother had heard the 
Banshee three times and that she, herself, 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 15 

had heard it once. All this gave her a 
certain proprietary interest in the Devil 
Baby and I suspected she cherished a secret 
hope that when she should lay her eyes 
upon him, her inherited gifts might be 
able to reveal the meaning of the strange 
portent. At the least, he would afford a 
proof that her family-long faith in such 
matters was justified. Her misshapen 
hands lying on her lap fairly trembled with 
eagerness. 

It may have been because I was still 
smarting under the recollection of the 
disappointment we had so wantonly in- 
flicted upon our visitor from the poorhouse 
that the very next day I found myself 
almost agreeing with her whole-hearted 
acceptance of the past as of much more 
importance than the mere present ; at least 
for half an hour the past seemed endowed 
also for me with a profounder and more 
ardent life. 

This impression was received in connec- 
tion with an old woman, sturdy in her 
convictions, although long since bedrid- 
den, who had doggedly refused to believe 



16 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

that there was no Devil Baby at Hull- 
House, unless "herself" told her so. Be- 
cause of her mounting irritation with the 
envoys who one and all came back to her 
to report "they say it ain't there," it seemed 
well that I should go promptly before "she 
fashed herself into the grave." As I walked 
along the street and even as I went up the 
ramshackle outside stairway of the rear 
cottage and through the dark corridor to 
the "second floor back" where she lay in 
her untidy bed, I was assailed by a veri- 
table temptation to give her a full descrip- 
tion of the Devil Baby, which by this time 
I knew so accurately (for with a hundred 
variations to select from I could have 
made a monstrous infant almost worthy 
of his name), and also to refrain from put- 
ting too much stress on the fact that he 
had never been really and truly at Hull- 
House. 

I found my mind hastily marshalling 
arguments for not disturbing her belief in 
the story which had so evidently brought 
her a vivid interest long denied her. She 
lived alone with her young grandson, who 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 17 

went to work every morning at seven o'clock 
and save for the short visits made by the 
visiting nurse and by kind neighbors, her 
long day was monotonous and undisturbed. 
But the story of a Devil Baby, with his 
existence officially corroborated as it were, 
would give her a lodestone which would 
attract the neighbors far and wide and 
exalt her once more into the social impor- 
tance she had had twenty-four years be- 
fore when I had first known her. She was 
then the proprietor of the most prosperous 
second-hand store on a street full of them, 
her shiftless, drinking husband and her 
jolly, good-natured sons doing exactly what 
she told them to do. This, however, was 
long past, for "owing to the drink," in her 
own graphic phrase, "the old man, the 
boys, and the business, too, were clean 
gone" and there was "nobody left but little 
Tom and me and nothing for us to live 



on." 



I remember how well she used to tell a 
story when I once tried to collect some 
folk-lore for Mr. Yeats to prove that an 
Irish peasant does not lose his faith in the 



18 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

little people nor his knowledge of Gaelic 
phrases simply because he is living in a 
city. She had at that time told me a 
wonderful tale concerning a red cloak 
worn by an old woman to a freshly dug 
grave. The story of the Devil Baby would 
give her material worthy of her powers, 
but of course she must -be able to believe 
it with all her heart. She could live only 
a few months at the very best, I argued to 
myself; why not give her this vivid in- 
terest and through it awake those earliest 
recollections of that long-accumulated folk- 
lore with its magic power to transfigure and 
eclipse the sordid and unsatisfactory sur- 
roundings in which life is actually spent ? 
I solemnly assured myself that the imag- 
ination of old age needs to be fed and prob- 
ably has quite as imperious a claim as 
that of youth, which levies upon us so re- 
morselessly with its "I want a fairy story, 
but I don't like you to begin by saying that 
it isn't true." Impatiently I found myself 
challenging the educators who had given 
us no pedagogical instructions for the 
treatment of old age, although they had 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 19 

fairly over informed us as to the use of the 
fairy tale with children. 

The little room was stuffed with a mag- 
pie collection, the usual odds and ends which 
compose an old woman's treasures, aug- 
mented in this case by various articles 
which a second-hand store, even of the most 
flourishing sort, could not sell. In the 
picturesque confusion, if anywhere in Chi- 
cago, an urbanized group of the little people 
might dwell ; they would certainly find the 
traditional atmosphere which they strictly 
require, marvelling faith and unalloyed 
reverence. At any rate, an eager old woman 
aroused to her utmost capacity of wonder 
and credulity was the very soil, prepared 
to a nicety, for planting the seed-thought 
of the Devil Baby. If the object of my 
errand had been an hour's reading to a 
sick woman, it would have been accounted 
to me for philanthropic righteousness, and 
if the chosen reading had lifted her mind 
from her bodily discomforts and harassing 
thoughts so that she forgot them all for 
one fleeting moment, how pleased I should 
have been with the success of my effort. 



20 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

But here I was with a story at my tongue's 
end, stupidly hesitating to give it validity, 
although the very words were on my lips. 
I was still arguing the case with myself 
when I stood on the threshold of her room 
and caught the indomitable gleam of her 
eye, fairly daring me to deny the existence 
of the Devil Baby, her slack dropsical body 
so responding to her overpowering excite- 
ment that for the moment she looked alert 
in her defiance and positively menacing. 

But, as in the case of many another weak 
soul, the decision was taken out of my 
hands, my very hesitation was enough, for 
nothing is more certain than that the bearer 
of a magic tale never stands dawdling on 
the door-step. Slowly the gleam died out 
of the expectant old eyes, the erect shoul- 
ders sagged and pulled forward, and I saw 
only too plainly that the poor old woman 
had accepted one more disappointment in a 
life already overflowing with them. She 
was violently thrown back into all the 
limitations of her personal experience and 
surroundings, and that larger life she had 
anticipated so eagerly was as suddenly 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 21 

shut away from her as if a door had been 
slammed in her face. 

I never encountered that particular 
temptation again, though she was no more 
pitiful than many of the aged visitors whom 
the Devil Baby brought to Hull-House. 
But, perhaps as a result of this experience, 
I gradually lost the impression that the 
old people were longing for a second chance 
at life, to live it all over again and to live 
more fully and wisely, and I became more 
reconciled to the fact that many of them 
had little opportunity for meditation or for 
bodily rest, but must keep on working 
with their toil-worn hands, in spite of 
weariness or faintness of heart. 

The vivid interest of so many old women 
in the story of the Devil Baby may have 
been an unconscious, although powerful, 
testimony that tragic experiences gradually 
become dressed in such trappings in order 
that their spent agony may prove of some 
use to a world which learns at the hard- 
est ; and that the strivings and sufferings 
of men and women long since dead, their 
emotions no longer connected with flesh 



22 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

and blood, are thus transmuted into leg- 
endary wisdom. The young are forced to 
heed the warning in such a tale, although 
for the mosjt part it is so easy for them to 
disregard tlie words of the aged. That 
the old women who came to visit the Devil 
Baby believed that the story would se- 
cure them a hearing at home was evident, 
and as they prepared themselves with 
every detail of it, their old faces shone with 
a timid satisfaction. Their features, worn 
and scarred by harsh living, as effigies 
built into the floor of an old church become 
dim and defaced by rough-shod feet, grew 
poignant and solemn. In the midst of 
their double bewilderment, both that the 
younger generation was walking in such 
strange paths and that no one would lis- 
ten to them, for one moment there flickered 
up the last hope of a disappointed life, 
that it may at least serve as a warning, 
while affording material for an exciting 
narrative. 

Sometimes in talking to a woman who 
was "but a hair's breadth this side of 
the darkness," I realized that old age has 



TRANSMUTING THE PAST 23 

its own expression for the mystic renun- 
ciation of the world. Their impatience 
with all non-essentials, the craving to be 
free from hampering bonds and soft con- 
ditions, recalled Tolstoy's last impetuous 
journey, and I was once more grateful 
to his genius for making clear another 
unintelligible impulse of bewildered hu- 
manity. 

Often, in the midst of a conversation, one 
of these touching old women would quietly 
express a longing for death, as if it were a 
natural fulfilment of an inmost desire, 
with a sincerity and anticipation so gen- 
uine that I would feel abashed in her 
presence, ashamed to "cling to this strange 
thing that shines in the sunlight and to be 
sick with love for it." Such impressions 
were, in their essence, transitory, but one 
result from the hypothetical visit of the 
Devil Baby to Hull-House will, I think, 
remain : a realization of the sifting and 
reconciling power inherent in Memory it- 
self. The old women, with much to ag- 
gravate and little to soften the habitual 
bodily discomforts of old age, exhibited 



24 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

an emotional serenity so vast and so reas- 
suring, that I found myself perpetually spec- 
ulating upon how soon the fleeting and 
petty emotions which now seem unduly 
important to us might be thus transmuted ; 
at what moment we might expect the in- 
consistencies and perplexities of life to be 
brought under this appeasing Memory with 
its ultimate power to increase the elements 
of beauty and significance and to reduce, 
if not to eliminate, all sense of resentment. 



CHAPTER II 

WOMEN'S MEMORIES REACTING ON LIFE 
AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE STORY OF THE 

DEVIL BABY 

DURING the weeks when the Devil Baby 
seemed to occupy every room in Hull- 
House, I was conscious that all human 
vicissitudes are, in the end, melted down into 
reminiscence, and that a metaphorical state- 
ment of the basic experiences which are 
implicit in human nature itself, however 
crude in form the story may be, has a singu- 
lar power of influencing daily living. 

At moments we also seemed to glimpse 
the process through which such tales had 
been evolved. As our visitors to the Devil 
Baby came day by day, it gradually be- 
came evident that the simpler women were 
moved not wholly by curiosity, but that 
many of them prized the story as a valu- 
able instrument in the business of living. 

25 



26 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

From them and from the surprising number 
of others who had been sent by the aged 
and the bed-ridden to secure an exact 
history and description of the child, the 
suggestion finally became quite irresis- 
tible that such a story, outlining a great 
abstraction, may once have performed the 
high service of tradition and discipline in 
the beginnings of a civilized family life. 

The legend exhibited all the persistence 
of one of those tales which has doubtless 
been preserved through the centuries be- 
cause of its taming effects upon recalci- 
trant husbands and fathers. Shamefaced 
men brought to Hull-House by their women 
folk to see the baby, but ill concealed their 
triumph when there proved to be no such 
visible sign of retribution for domestic 
derelictions. On the other hand, numbers 
of men came by themselves, one group 
from a neighboring factory on their "own 
time" offered to pay twenty-five cents, a 
half dollar, two dollars apiece to see the 
child, insisting that it must be at Hull- 
House because "the women had seen it." 
To my query as to whether they supposed 



REACTING ON LIFE 27 

we would, for money, exhibit a poor little 
deformed baby, if one had been born in the 
neighborhood, they replied : " Sure, why 
not?" and "it teaches a good lesson, too," 
they added as an afterthought, or perhaps 
as a concession to the strange moral stand- 
ards of a place like Hull-House. All the 
members in this group of hard-working 
men, in spite of a certain swagger towards 
one another and a tendency to bully the 
derelict showman, wore a hang-dog look 
betraying that sense of unfair treatment 
which a man is so apt to feel when his 
womankind makes an appeal to the super- 
natural. In their determination to see 
the child, the men recklessly divulged much 
more concerning their motives than they 
had meant to do. Their talk confirmed 
my impression that such a story may still 
act as a restraining influence in the sphere 
of marital conduct which, next to primitive 
religion, has always afforded the most fer- 
tile field for irrational taboos and savage 
punishments. 

What story could be better than this to 
secure sympathy for the mother of too 



28 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

many daughters and contumely for the 
irritated father; the touch of mysticism, 
the supernatural sphere in which it was 
placed, would render a man quite helpless. 

The story of the Devil Baby, evolved in 
response to the imperative needs of anxious 
wives and mothers, recalls the theory that 
woman first fashioned the fairy story, that 
combination of wisdom and romance, in an 
effort to tame her mate and to make him 
a better father to her children, until such 
stories finally became a crude creed for 
domestic conduct, softening the treatment 
men accorded to women. Because such 
stories, expressing the very essence of 
human emotion, did not pretend to imitate 
the outside of life, they were careless of 
verisimilitude and absolutely indifferent 
to the real world. They did, however, 
meet an essential requirement of the good 
story, in that they dealt with fundamental 
experiences. 

These first pitiful efforts of women were 
so widespread and powerful that we have 
not yet escaped their influence. As sub- 
conscious memories, they still cast vague 



REACTING ON LIFE 29 

shadows upon the vast spaces of life, shad- 
ows that are dim and distorted because of 
their distant origin. They remind us 
that for thousands of years women had 
nothing to oppose against unthinkable bru- 
tality save "the charm of words," no other 
implement with which to subdue the fierce- 
nesses of the world about them. Only 
through words could they hope to , arouse 
the generosity of strength, to secure a 
measure of pity for themselves and their 
children, to so protect the life they had 
produced that "the precious vintage stored 
from their own agony" might not wan- 
tonly be spilled upon the ground. Pos- 
sibly the multitude of life's failures, the 
obscure victims of unspeakable wrong and 
brutality, have embodied their memories 
in a literature of their own, of which the 
story of the Devil Baby is a- specimen, 
crude and ugly in form, as would be inevi- 
table, but still bringing relief to the sur- 
charged heart. 

During the weeks that the Devil Baby 
drew multitudes of visitors to Hull-House, 
my mind was opened to the fact that new 



30 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

knowledge derived from concrete experi- 
ence is continually being made available 
for the guidance of human life ; that hum- 
ble women are still establishing rules of 
conduct as best they may, to counteract 
the base temptations of a man's world. 
I saw a new significance in the fact that 
thousands of women, for instance, make 
it a standard of domestic virtue that a 
man must not touch his pay envelope, but 
bring it home unopened to his wife. High 
praise is contained in the phrase, "We 
have been married twenty years and he 
never once opened his own envelope," or 
covert blame in the statement, "Of course 
he got to gambling ; what can you expect 
from a man who always opens his own 
pay?" 

These humble domestic virtues, of which 
women see the need so much more vividly 
than men do, have furthermore developed 
their penalties. The latter, too, are put into 
aphorisms which, in time, when Memory 
has done her work upon them, may become 
legendary wisdom. 

Such a penalty was recently illustrated 



REACTING ON LIFE 31 

in our neighborhood by the fate of an old 
man who was found in his room almost 
starved to death. He was pointed out by 
many of our neighbors as an example of 
the inevitable fate of one who deserts his 
family and therefore, "without a woman to 
keep him straight/' falls into drink and 
shiftlessness and the endless paths of wrong- 
doing, so that loneliness and destitution 
inevitably overtake his old age. 

The women were so fatalistically certain 
of this relation of punishment to domestic 
sin, of reward to domestic virtue, that when 
they talked about them, as they so con- 
stantly did in connection with the Devil 
Baby, it often sounded as if they were 
using the words of a widely known ritual. 
Among the visitors to the Devil Baby were 
many foreign-born peasant women who, 
when they had come to America, had been 
suddenly subjected to the complicated and 
constantly changing environment of city 
life, and, finding no outlet for many in- 
herited tendencies, might easily have been 
thrown into that state described by psy- 
chologists as one of "baulked disposition." 



32 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

To them this simple tale, with its direct 
connection between cause and effect, 
between wrong-doing and punishment, 
brought soothing and relief, and restored 
a shaken confidence as to the righteous- 
ness of the universe. They used the story 
not only to tame restless husbands, but 
mothers threatened their daughters that 
if they went to dance halls or out to walk 
with strange young men, they would be 
eternally disgraced by devil babies. As 
the story grew, the girls themselves seized 
upon it as a palpable punishment to be 
held over the heads of reckless friends. 
That the tale was useful was evidenced by 
many letters similar to the anonymous 
epistle here given. 

"me and my friends we work in talor shop and 
when we are going home on the roby street car 
where we get off that car at blue island ave. we will 
meet some fellows sitting at that street where they 
drink some beer from pail, they keep look in cars 
all time and they will wait and see if we will come 
sometimes we will have to work, but they will wait 
so long they are tired and they dont care they get 
rest so long but a girl what works in twine mill saw 
them talk with us we know her good and she say 



REACTING ON LIFE 33 

what youse talk with old drunk man for we shall 
come to thier dance when it will be they will tell us 
and we should know all about where to see them that 
girl she say } oh if you will go with them you will get 
devils baby like some other girls did who we knows, 
she say Jane Addams she will show one like that in 
Hull House if you will go down there/we shall come 
sometime and we will see if that is troutty we do not 
believe her for she is friendly with them old men 
herself when she go out from her work they will 
wink to her and say something else to. We will 
go down and see you and make a lie from what she 
say." 

Because the Devil Baby embodied an 
undeserved wrong to a poor mother whose 
tender child had been claimed by the forces 
of evil, his merely reputed presence had 
power to attract to Hull-House hundreds 
of women who had been humbled and dis- 
graced by their children; mothers of the 
feeble-minded, of the vicious, of the crim- 
inal, of the prostitute. In their talk it 
was as if their long role of maternal apology 
and protective reticence had at last broken 
down, as if they could speak out freely be- 
cause for once a man responsible for an 
ill-begotten child had been "met up with' 5 



34 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

and had received his deserts. Their sin- 
ister version of the story was that the father 
of the Devil Baby had married without 
confessing a hideous crime committed years 
before, thus basely deceiving both his in- 
nocent young bride and the good priest 
who performed the solemn ceremony ; that 
the sin had become incarnate in his child 
which, to the horror of the young and 
trusting mother, had been born with all 
the outward aspects of the devil himself. 

As if drawn by a magnet, these forlorn 
women issued forth from the many homes 
in which dwelt "the two unprofitable 
goddesses, Poverty and Impossibility.'* 
Occasionally it seemed to me that the 
women were impelled by a longing to see 
one good case of retribution before they 
died, as a bullied child hopes to deal at 
least one crushing blow at his tormentor 
when he "grows up," but I think, on the 
whole, such an explanation was a mistake ; 
it is more probable that the avidity of the 
women demonstrated that the story itself, 
like all interpretative art, was "one of those 
free, unconscious attempts to satisfy, out- 



REACTING ON LIFE 35 

side of life, those cravings which life itself 
leaves unsatisfied." At moments, however, 
baffled desires, sharp cries of pain, echoes 
of justices unfulfilled, the original material 
from which such tales are fashioned, would 
defy Memory's appeasing power and break 
through the rigid restraints imposed by all 
Art, even that unconscious of itself. 

With an understanding quickened, per- 
haps, through my own acquaintance with 
the mysterious child, I listened to many 
tragic reminiscences from the visiting 
women; of premature births, "because he 
kicked me in the side" ; of children maimed 
and burnt because "I had no one to leave 
them with when I went to work" ; women 
had seen the tender flesh of growing little 
bodies given over to death because "he 
wouldn't let me send for the doctor," or 
because "there was no money to pay for 
the medicine." But even these mothers, 
rendered childless through insensate bru- 
tality, were less pitiful than some of the 
others, who might well have cried aloud of 
their children as did a distracted mother of 
her child centuries ago : 



36 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

"That God should send this one thing more 
Of hunger and of dread, a door 
Set wide to every wind of pain !" 

Such was the mother of a feeble-minded 
boy who said : "I didn't have a devil baby 
myself, but I bore a poor 'innocent' who 
made me fight devils for twenty-three years." 
She told of her son's experiences from the 
time the other little boys had put him up 
to stealing that they might hide in safety 
and leave him to be found with "the 
goods on him," until grown into a huge 
man he fell into the hands of professional 
burglars ; he was evidently the dupe and 
stool-pigeon of the vicious and criminal until 
the very day he was locked into the State 
Penitentiary. "If people played with him 
a little, he went right off and did anything 
they told him to, and now he's been sent 
up for life. We call such innocents ' God's 
Fools' in the old country, but over here 
the Devil himself gets them. I've fought 
off bad men and boys from the poor lamb 
with my very fists ; nobody ever came near 
the house except such-like and the police 
officers, who were always arresting him." 



REACTING ON LIFE 37 

There were a goodly number of visitors 
to the Devil Baby of the type of those to 
be found in every large city, who are on the 
verge of nervous collapse, or who exhibit 
many symptoms of mental aberration, and 
yet are sufficiently normal to be at large 
most of the time, and to support themselves 
by drudgery which requires little mental 
effort, although the exhaustion resulting 
from the work they are able to do is the 
one thing from which they should be most 
carefully protected. One such woman, evi- 
dently obtaining inscrutable comfort from 
the story of the Devil Baby even after she 
had become convinced that we harbored 
no such creature, came many times to tell 
of her longing for her son, who had joined 
the army eighteen months before and was 
now stationed in Alaska. She always be- 
gan with the same words. 

"When Spring comes and the snow melts 
so that I know he could get out, I can 
hardly stand it. You know I was once in 
the Insane Asylum for three years at a 
stretch, and since then I haven't had much 
use of my mind except to worry with. Of 



38 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

course I know that it is dangerous for me, 
but what can I do ? I think something 
like this: 'The snow is melting, now he 
could get out, but his officers won't let 
him off and if he runs away he'll be shot 
for a deserter either way I'll never see 
him again; I'll die without seeing him' 
and then I begin all over again with the 
snow." After a pause, she said : 'The 
recruiting officer ought not to have taken 
him, he's my only son and I'm a widow. 
It's against the rules, but he was so crazy 
to go that I guess he lied a little at any 
rate, the government has him now and I 
can't get him back. Without this worry 
about him my mind would be all right ; 
if he were here he would be earning money 
and keeping me and we would be happy all 
day long." 

Recalling the vagabondish lad, who had 
never earned much money and had cer- 
tainly never "kept" his hard-working 
mother, I ventured to suggest that, even 
if he were at home, he might not have work 
these hard times, that he might get into 
trouble and be arrested I did not need 



REACTING ON LIFE 39 

to remind her that he had already been 
arrested twice that he was now fed and 
sheltered and under discipline, and I added 
hopefully something about his seeing the 
world. She looked at me out of her with- 
drawn, harried eyes, as if I were speaking 
a foreign tongue. ' That wouldn't make 
any real difference to me the work, the 
money, his behaving well and all that, if I 
could cook and wash for him. I don't need 
all the money I earn scrubbing that factory. 
I only take bread and tea for supper and 
I choke over that, thinking of him." 

She ceased to speak, overcome by a 
thousand obscure emotions which could 
find no outlet in words. She dimly real- 
ized that the facts in the case, to one who 
had known her boy from childhood, were 
far from creditable, and that no one could 
understand the eternally unappeased ideal- 
ism which, for her, surrounded her son's 
return. She was even afraid to say much 
about it, lest she should be overmastered 
by her subject and be considered so ir- 
rational as to suggest a return to the 
Hospital for the Insane. 



40 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

Those mothers who have never resisted 
fate nor buffeted against the black waters, 
but have allowed the waves to close over 
them, worn and bent as they are by hard 
labor, subdued and misshapen by the bru- 
tality of men, are at least unaffrighted by 
the melodramatic coarseness of life, which 
Stevenson more gently describes as "the 
uncouth and outlandish strain in the web 
of the world/' The story of the Devil 
Baby may have made its appeal through 
its frank presentation of this very de- 
moniac quality, to those who live under 
the iron tyranny of that poverty which 
threatens starvation, and under the dread 
of a brutality which may any dark night 
bring them or their children to extinction ; 
to those who have seen both virtue and 
vice go unrewarded and who have long 
since ceased to explain. 

This more primitive type embodies the 
eternal patience of those humble, toiling 
women who through the generations have 
been held of little value, save as their 
drudgery ministered to their men. One 
of them related her habit of going through 



REACTING ON LIFE 41 

the pockets of her drunken son every pay 
day, and complained that she had never 
found so little as the night before, only 
twenty-five cents out of fifteen dollars he 
had promised for the rent, long overdue. 
"I had to get that as he lay in the alley 
before the door ; I couldn't pull him in, 
and the copper who helped him home, 
left as soon as he heard me coming and pre- 
tended he didn't see me. I have no food 
in the house, nor coffee to sober him up 
with. I know perfectly well that you will 
ask me to eat something here, but, if I 
can't carry it home, I won't take a bite 
nor a sup. I have never told you so much 
before. Since one of the nurses said he 
could be arrested for my non-support, I 
have been awful close-mouthed. It's the 
foolish way all the women in our street 
are talking about the Devil Baby that's 
loosened my tongue, more shame to me." 

A sorrowful woman clad in heavy black, 
who came one day, exhibited such a capac- 
ity for prolonged weeping that it was evi- 
dence in itself of the truth of at least half 
her statement, that she had cried herself 



42 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

to sleep every night of her life for fourteen 
years in fulfilment of a "curse" laid upon 
her by an angry man, that "her pillow 
would be wet with tears as long as 
she lived." Her respectable husband had 
a shop in the Red Light district because 
he found it profitable to sell to the men 
and women who lived there. She had kept 
house in the room over the "store" from 
the time she was a bride newly come from 
Russia, and her five daughters had been 
born there, but never a son to gladden her 
husband's heart. 

She took such a feverish interest in the 
Devil Baby that, when I was obliged to 
disillusion her, I found it hard to take 
away her comfort in the belief that the 
Powers that Be are on the side of the 
woman when her husband resents too 
many daughters. But, after all, the birth 
of daughters was but an incident in her 
tale of unmitigated woe, for the scoldings 
of a disappointed husband were as nothing 
to the curse of a strange enemy, although 
she doubtless had a confused impression 
that if there were retribution for one in 



REACTING ON LIFE 43 

the general scheme of things, there might 
be for the other. When the weeping woman 
finally put the events of her disordered life 
in some sort of sequence, it became clear 
that about fifteen years ago she had re- 
ported to the police a vicious house whose 
back door opened into her own yard. Her 
husband had forbidden her to do anything 
about it and had said that it would only 
get them into trouble, but she had been 
made desperate one day when she saw her 
little girl, then twelve years old, come out 
of the door, gleefully showing her younger 
sister a present of money. Because the 
poor woman had tried for ten years without 
success to induce her husband to move 
from the vicinity of such houses, she was 
certain that she could save her child only 
by forcing out "the bad people" from her 
own door yard. She therefore made her 
one frantic effort, found her way to the 
city hall and there reported the house to 
the chief himself. Of course, "the bad 
people stood in with the police" and 
nothing happened to them save, perhaps, 
a fresh levy of blackmail, but the keeper 



44 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

of the house, beside himself with rage, 
made the dire threat and laid the curse 
upon her. In less than a year from that 
time he had enticed her daughter into a 
disreputable house in another part of the 
district. The poor woman, ringing one door- 
bell after another, had never been able to 
find her, but her sisters, who in time came 
to know where she was, had been dazzled 
by her mode of life. The weeping mother 
was quite sure that two of her daughters, 
while still outwardly respectable and 
"working downtown," earned money in 
the devious ways which they had learned 
all about when they were little children, 
although for the past five years the now 
prosperous husband had allowed the family 
to live in a suburb, where the two younger 
daughters were "growing up respectable." 
Certain of the visitors, although con- 
fronted by those mysterious and impersonal 
wrongs which are apparently inherent in the 
very nature of things, gave us glimpses of 
another sort of wisdom than that expressed 
in the assumptions that the decrees of Fate 
are immutable. 



REACTING ON LIFE 45 

Such a glimpse came to me through a 
conversation with a woman whose fine 
mind and indomitable spirit I had long 
admired ; I had known her for years, and 
yet the recital of her sufferings, added to 
those the Devil Baby had already induced 
other women to tell me, pierced me afresh. 
The story of the Devil Baby may have 
incited these women to put their experiences 
more vividly than they had hitherto been 
able to do. It may have been because 
they were unconsciously spurred by the 
hope that a supernatural retribution might 
intervene even for them, or because they 
were merely comforted by the knowledge 
that it had once done so for some one else 
that they spoke with more confidence than 
they had ever done before. 

"I had eleven children, some born in 
Hungary and some born here, nine of 
them boys ; all of the children died when 
they were little but my dear Liboucha. 
You know all about her. She died last 
winter in the Insane Asylum. She was only 
twelve years old when her father, in a fit 
of delirium tremens, killed himself after 



46 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

he had chased us around the room, trying 
to kill us first. She saw it all, the blood 
splashed on the wall stayed in her mind 
the worst ; she shivered and shook all that 
night through, and the next morning she 
had lost her voice, couldn't speak out 
loud for terror. After a while she went to 
school again and her voice came back, al- 
though it was never very natural. She 
seemed to do as well as ever and was awful 
pleased when she got into High School. 
All the money we had I earned scrubbing 
in a public dispensary, although sometimes 
I got a little more by interpreting for the 
patients, for I know three languages, one 
as well as the other. But I was deter- 
mined that whatever happened to me, 
Liboucha was to be educated. My hus- 
band's father was a doctor in the old coun- 
try, and Liboucha was always a clever 
child. I wouldn't have her live the kind 
of life I had, with no use for my mind ex- 
cept to make me restless and bitter. I was 
pretty old and worn out for such hard 
work, but when I used to see Liboucha on 
a Sunday morning ready for church in her 



REACTING ON LIFE 47 

white dress, with her long yellow hair 
braided round her beautiful pale face, ly- 
ing there in bed as I was, being brought 
up a free-thinker, and needing to rest my 
aching bones for the next week's work, 
I'd feel almost happy, in spite of every- 
thing. But of course no such peace could 
last in my life ; the second year at High 
School Liboucha began to seem different 
and to do strange things. You know the 
time she wandered away for three days and 
we were all wild with fright, although a 
kind woman had taken her in and no harm 
came to her. I could never be easy after 
that ; she was always gentle, but she was 
awful sly about running away and at last 
I had to send her to the asylum. She 
stayed there off and on for five years, but 
I saw her every week of my life and she 
was always company for me, what with 
sewing for her, washing and ironing her 
clothes, cooking little things to take out 
to her, and saving a bit of money to buy 
fruit for her. At any rate, I had stopped 
feeling so bitter, and got some comfort out 
of seeing the one thing that belonged to 



48 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

me on this side of the water, when all of a 
sudden she died of heart failure and they 
never took the trouble to send for me until 
the next day." 

She stopped as if wondering afresh that 
the Fates could have been so casual, but 
with a sudden illumination, as if she had 
been awakened out of the burden and 
intensity of her restricted personal inter- 
ests into a consciousness of those larger 
relations that are, for the most part, so 
strangely invisible. It was as if the young 
mother of the grotesque Devil Baby, that 
victim of wrong doing on the part of 
others, had revealed to this tragic woman 
much more clearly than soft words had 
ever done, that the return of a deed of 
violence upon the head of the innocent is 
inevitable ; as if she had realized that, al- 
though she was destined to walk all the 
days of her life with the piteous multitude 
who bear the undeserved wrongs of the 
world, she would walk henceforth with a 
sense of companionship. 

At moments it seemed possible that these 
simple women, representing an earlier de- 



REACTING ON LIFE 49 

velopment, eagerly seized upon the story 
because it was primitive in form and sub- 
stance. Certainly, one evening, a long- 
forgotten ballad made an unceasing effort 
to come to the surface of my mind as I 
talked to a feeble woman who, in the last 
stages of an incurable disease from which 
she soon afterwards died, had been helped 
off the street car in front of Hull-House. 
The ballad tells how the lover of a proud 
and jealous mistress, who demanded as a 
final test of devotion that he bring her the 
heart of his mother, had quickly cut the 
heart from his mother's breast and impetu- 
ously returned to his lady, bearing it upon 
a salver ; and how, when stumbling in his 
gallant haste, he stooped to replace upon 
the silver plate his mother's heart, which 
had rolled to the ground, the heart, still 
beating with tender solicitude, whispered 
the hope that her child was not hurt. The 
ballad itself was scarcely more exaggerated 
than the story of our visitor that evening, 
who had made the desperate effort of a 
journey from home in order to see the 
Devil Baby. I was familiar with her vicis- 



50 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

situdes ; the shiftless, drinking husband 
and the large family of children, all of whom 
had brought her sorrow and disgrace, and I 
knew that her heart's desire was to see 
again, before she died, her youngest son, 
who was a life prisoner in the penitentiary. 
She was confident that the last piteous 
stage of her disease would secure him a 
week's parole, founding this forlorn hope 
upon the fact that "they sometimes let 
them out to attend a mother's funeral, 
and perhaps they'd let Joe come a few 
days ahead ; he could pay his fare after- 
wards from the insurance money. It 
wouldn't take much to bury me." Again 
we went over the hideous story: Joe had 
violently quarrelled with a woman, the 
proprietor of the house in which his dis- 
reputable wife was living, because she had 
withheld from him a part of his wife's 
"earnings," and in the altercation had 
killed her a situation, one would say, 
which it would be difficult for even a mother 
to condone. But not at all, her thin gray 
face worked with emotion, her trembling 
hands restlessly pulled at her shabby skirt 



REACTING ON LIFE 51 

as the hands of the dying pluck at their 
sheets, but she put all the vitality she 
could muster into his defence. She told 
us he had legally married the girl, who sup- 
ported him, "although Lily had been so 
long in that life that few men would have 
done it. Of course, such a girl must have 
a protector or everybody would fleece her. 
Poor Lily said to the day of her death that 
he was the kindest man she ever knew, and 
treated her the whitest ; that she herself 
was to blame for the murder because she 
told on the old miser, and Joe was so hotr 
headed she might have known that he 
would draw a gun for her." The gasping 
mother concluded: "He was always that 
handsome and had such a way. One 
winter, when I was scrubbing in an office 
building, I'd never get home much before 
twelve o'clock, but Joe would open the 
door for me just as pleasant as if he hadn't 
been waked out of a sound sleep." She 
was so triumphantly unconscious of the 
incongruity of a sturdy son in bed while 
his mother earned his food, that her audi- 
tors said never a word, and in silence we 



52 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

saw a hero evolved before our eyes, a de- 
fender of the oppressed, the best beloved of 
his mother, who was losing his high spirits 
and eating his heart out behind prison 
bars. He could well defy the world even 
there, surrounded as he was by that invin- 
cible affection which assures both the for- 
tunate and unfortunate alike that we are 
loved, not according to our deserts, but in 
response to some profounder law. 

This imposing revelation of maternal 
solicitude was an instance of what con- 
tinually happened in connection with the 
Devil Baby. In the midst of the most 
tragic reminiscences, there remained that 
something in the memories of these mothers 
which has been called the great revelation 
of tragedy, or sometimes the great illusion 
of tragedy ; that which has power in its 
own right to make life palatable and at 
rare moments even beautiful. 



CHAPTER III 

WOMEN'S MEMORIES DISTURBING CON- 
VENTIONS 

IN sharp contrast to the function of woman's 
long memory as a reconciler to life, revealed 
by the visitors to the Devil Baby, are those 
individual reminiscences which, because 
they force the possessor to challenge exist- 
ing conventions, act as a reproach, even as 
a social disturber. When these reminis- 
cences, based upon the diverse experi- 
ences of many people unknown to each 
other, point to one inevitable conclusion, 
they accumulate into a social protest, 
although not necessarily an effective one, 
against existing conventions, even against 
those which are most valuable and those 
securely founded upon cumulative human 
wisdom. But because no conventional- 
ized tradition is perfect, however good its 
intent, most of them become challenged in 

S3 



54 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

course of time, unwittingly illustrating the 
contention that great social changes are 
often brought about less by the thinkers 
than by "a certain native and indepen- 
dent rationalism operating in great masses 
of men and women." 

The statement is well founded that a 
convention is at its best, not when it is 
universally accepted, but just when it is 
being so challenged and broken that the 
conformists are obliged to defend it and 
to fight for it against those who would 
destroy it. Both the defenders of an old 
custom and its opponents are then driven 
to a searching of their own hearts. 

Such searching and sifting is taking 
place in the consciences of many women of 
this generation whose sufferings, although 
strikingly influencing conduct, are seldom 
expressed in words until they are told in 
the form of reminiscence after the edges 
have been long since dulled. Such suffer- 
ings are never so poignant as when women 
have been forced by their personal experi- 
ences to challenge the valuable conventions 
safeguarding family life. 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 55 

A woman whom I had known slightly 
for many years came to Hull-House one day 
escorted by her little grandson. Her delicate 
features, which were rather hard and severe, 
softened most charmingly as the little boy 
raised his cap in good-by from the vanish- 
ing automobile. In reply to my admiring 
comment upon the sturdy lad and his af- 
fectionate relation to her, she startled me 
by saying abruptly, "You know he is 
really not my grandson. I have scarcely 
admitted the doubt before, but the time 
is coming when I must face it and de- 
cide his future. If you are kind enough 
to listen, I want to tell you my experience 
in all its grim sorrow. 

"My husband was shot twenty-seven 
years ago, under very disgraceful circum- 
stances, in a disreputable quarter of Paris ; 
you may remember something of it in the 
newspapers, although they meant to be 
considerate. I was left with my little son, 
and with such a horror of self-indulgence 
and its consequences, that I determined to 
rear my child in strict sobriety, chastity, 
and self-restraint, although all else were 



56 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

sacrificed to it. Through his school and 
college days, which I took care should be 
far from his father's friends and associations, 
I always lived with him, so bent on recti- 
tude and so distressed by any lack of self- 
control that I see now how hard and 
rigorous his life must have been. I meant 
to sacrifice myself for my child, in reality 
I sacrificed him to my narrow code. 

"The very June that he took his master's 
degree, I myself found him, one beautiful 
morning, lying dead in his own room, shot 
through the temple. No one had heard 
the report of the revolver, for the little 
house we had taken was so on the edge of 
the college town that the neighbors were 
rather remote, and he must have killed 
himself while I sat in the moonlight, on the 
garden bench, after he had left me, my 
mind still filled with plans for his future. 

"I have gone over every word of our 
conversation that evening in the garden a 
thousand times ; we were planning to come 
to Chicago for his medical course, and I 
had expressed my exultant confidence in 
him to withstand whatever temptation a 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 57 

city might offer, my pride in his purity of 
thought, his rectitude of conduct. It was 
then he rose rather abruptly and went into 
the house to write the letter to me which 
I found on his table next morning. In 
that letter he told me that he was too vile 
to live any longer, that he had sinned not 
only against his own code of decency and 
honor, but against my lifelong standards 
and teachings, and that he realized per- 
fectly that I could never forgive him. 
He evidently did not expect any under- 
standing from me, either for himself or for 
'the young and innocent girF about to be- 
come the mother of his child, and in his 
interpretation of my rigid morals he was 
quite sure that I would never consent to 
see her, but he wrote me that he had told 
her to send the little baby to me as soon 
as it was born, obviously hoping that I 
might be tender to the innocent, although 
I was so harsh and unpitying to the guilty. 
I had apparently never given him a glimpse 
beyond my unbending sternness, and he had 
all unwittingly pronounced me too self- 
righteous for forgiveness ; at any rate, he 



58 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

faced death rather than my cold disap- 
probation. 

"The girl is still leading the life she had 
led for two years before my son met her. 
She is glad to have her child cared for and 
hopes that I will make him my heir, but 
understands, of course, that his paternity 
could never be established in court. So 
here I am, old and hard, beginning again 
the perilous experiment of rearing a man 
child. I suppose it was inevitable that I 
should hold the girl responsible for my son's 
downfall and for his death. She was one 
of the wretched young women who live 
in college towns for the express purpose 
of inveigling young men, often deliberately 
directing their efforts toward those who 
are reputed to have money. I discovered 
all sorts of damaging facts about her, which 
enabled me to exonerate my son from in- 
tentional wrong-doing, and to think quite 
honestly that he had been lured and 
tempted beyond his strength. The girl 
was obliged to leave the little town, which 
was filled with the horror and scandal of 
the occurrence, but even then, in that first 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 59 

unbridled public censure against the 'bad 
woman' who had been discovered in the 
midst of virtuous surroundings, there was 
a tendency to hold me accountable for my 
son's death, whatever the girl's earlier 
responsibility may have been. 

" In my loathing of her I experienced all 
over again the harsh and bitter judgments 
through which I had lived in the first years 
after my husband's death. I had secretly 
held the unknown woman responsible for his 
end, but of course it never occurred to me 
to find out about her, and I certainly could 
never have brought myself to hear her 
name, much less to see her. I have at 
least done better than that in regard to 
the mother of my 'grandson,' and Heaven 
knows I have tried in all humility and 
heartbreak to help her. She fairly hated 
me, as she did anything that reminded her 
of my son the entire episode had seemed 
to her so unnatural, so monstrous, so un- 
necessary she considered me his mur- 
derer, and I never had the courage to tell 
her that I agreed with her. Perhaps if I 
had done that, really abased myself as I 



60 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

was willing she should be abased, we might 
have come into some sort of genuine re- 
lation born of our companionship in trag- 
edy. But I couldn't do that, possibly 
because the women of my generation can- 
not easily change the traditional attitude 
towards what the Bible calls 'the harlot/ 
At any rate, I didn't succeed in 'saving' 
her. She so obviously dreaded seeing me, 
and our strained visits were so unsatis- 
factory and painful, that I finally gave it 
up, and her son has apparently quite for- 
gotten her. I am sure she tries to forget 
him and all the tragic scenes associated 
with his earliest babyhood, when I in- 
sisted not only upon 'keeping mother and 
child together' but also on keeping them 
with me." 

After a moment's pause she resumed : 
"It would have been comparatively easy 
for me to die when my child was little, 
when I still had a right to believe that he 
would grow up to be a good and useful 
man, but I lived to see him driven to his 
death by my own stupidity. I have en- 
countered the full penalty for breaking the 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 6l 

commandment to judge not. I passed 
sentence without hearing the evidence ; I 
gave up the traditional role of the woman 
who loves and pities and tries to under- 
stand ; I forgot that it was my mission to 
save and not to judge. 

"As I have gone back over my unmiti- 
gated failure again and again, I am sure 
at last that it was the sorry result of my 
implacable judgment of the woman I held 
responsible for my husband's sin. I did 
not realize the danger nor the inevitable 
recoil of such a state of self-righteousness 
upon my child." 

As she paused in the recital I rashly 
anticipated the conclusion, that her bitter 
experiences had brought the whole question 
to that tribunal of personal conduct whose 
concrete findings stir us to our very mar- 
row with shame and remorse ; that she had 
frantically striven as we all do, to keep her- 
self from falling into the pit where the 
demons of self-reproach dwell, by clinging 
to the conventional judgments of the 
world. I expected her to set them forth 
at great length in self-justification, and per- 



62 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

haps, belonging, as she so obviously did, to 
an older school, she might even assure me 
that the wrong to those to whom it was 
now impossible to make reparation had 
forever lifted her above committing another 
such injustice. I found, however, that I 
was absolutely mistaken and that whatever 
might be true of her, it still lay within me 
to commit a gross injustice, when she re- 
sumed with these words : "It is a long time 
since I ceased to urge in my own defence 
that I was but reflecting the attitude of 
society, for, in my efforts to get at the root 
of the matter I have been convinced that 
the conventional attitude cannot be de- 
fended, certainly not upon religious 
grounds." 

She stopped as if startled by her own 
reflections upon the subject of the social 
ostracism so long established and so harshly 
enforced that women seem to hold to it as 
through an instinct of self-preservation. 

She was, perhaps, dimly conscious that 
the tradition that the unchaste woman 
should be an outcast from society rests 
upon a solid basis of experience, upon the 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 63 

long struggle of a multitude of obscure 
women who, from one generation to another, 
were frantically determined to establish the 
paternity of their children and to force the 
father to a recognition of his obligations ; 
and that the living representatives of these 
women instinctively rise up in honest re- 
bellion against any attempt to loosen the 
social control which such efforts have es- 
tablished, bungling and cruel though the 
control may be. 

Further conversation showed that she 
also realized that these stern memories 
inherited from the past have an undoubted 
social value and that it is a perilous under- 
taking upon which certain women of this 
generation are bent in their efforts to deal 
a belated justice to the fallen woman. It 
involves a clash within the very mass of ' 
inherited motives and impulses as well as 
a clash between old conventions and con- 
temporary principles. On the other hand, 
it must have been obvious to her in her 
long effort to get at "the root of the mat- 
ter" that the punishment and hatred of 
the bad woman has gone so far as to over- 



64 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

reach its own purpose ; it has become re- 
sponsible for such hardness of heart on the 
part of "respectable" women towards the 
so-called fallen ones, that punishment is 
often inflicted not only without regard to 
justice, but in order to feed the spiritual 
pride, "I am holier than thou." Such 
pride erects veritable barricades, deliber- 
ately shutting out sympathetic understand- 
ing. 

The very fact that women remain closer 
to type than men do and are more swayed 
by the past, makes it difficult for them to 
defy settled conventions. It adds to their 
difficulty that the individual women, 
driven to modify a harsh convention which 
has become unendurable to them, are per- 
force those most sensitive to injustice. The 
sharp struggle for social advance, which is 
always a struggle between ideas, long be- 
fore it becomes embodied in contending 
social groups, may thus find its arena in 
the tender conscience of one woman who 
is pitilessly rent and pierced by her war- 
ring scruples and affections. Even such a 
tentative effort in the direction of social 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 65 

advance exacts the usual toll of blood and 
tears. 

Fortunately the entire burden of the 
attempt to modify a convention which 
has become unsupportable, by no means 
rests solely upon such self-conscious women. 
Their analytical efforts are steadily sup- 
plemented by instinctive conduct on the 
part of many others. A great mass of 
"variation from type/' accelerating this 
social change, is contributed by simple 
mothers who have been impelled by the 
same primitive emotion which the Devil 
Baby had obviously released in so many 
old women. This is an overwhelming pity 
and sense of tender comprehension, doubt- 
less closely related to the compunction 
characteristic of all primitive people which 
in the earliest stage of social development 
long performed the first rude offices of a 
sense of justice. This early trait is still a 
factor in the social struggle, for as has often 
been pointed out, our social state is like a 
countryside of a complex geological struc- 
ture, with outcrops of strata of very diverse 
ages. 



66 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

Such compunction sometimes carries the 
grandmother of an illegitimate child to the 
point of caring for the child when she is 
still utterly unable to forgive her daughter, 
the child's mother. Even that is a step 
in advance from the time when the 
daughter was driven from the house and 
her child, because a bastard, was con- 
scientiously treated as an outcast both by 
the family and by the community. 

Such an instance of compunction was 
recently brought to my attention when 
Hull-House made an effort to place a sub- 
normal little girl twelve years old in an 
institution in order that she might be pro- 
tected from certain designing men in the 
neighborhood. The grandmother who had 
always taken care of her savagely opposed 
the effort step by step. She had scrubbed 
the lavatories in a public building during 
the twenty-five years of her widowhood, 
and because she worked all day had been 
unable to protect her own feeble-minded 
daughter who, when barely fifteen years 
old, had become the mother of this child. 
When her granddaughter was finally placed 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 67 

in the institution, the old woman was ab- 
solutely desolated. She found it almost 
impossible to return home after her day's 
work because "it was too empty and lone- 
some, and nothing to come back for. 
You see," she explained, "my youngest 
boy wasn't right in his head either and kept 
his bed for the last fifteen years of his life. 
During all that time I took care of him the 
way one does of a baby, and I hurried home 
every night with my heart in my mouth 
until I saw that he was all right. He died 
the year this little girl was born and she 
kind of took his place. I kept her in a 
day nursery while she was little, and when 
she was seven years old the ladies there 
sent her to school in one of the subnormal 
rooms and let her come back to the nursery 
for her meals. I thought she was getting 
along all right and I took care never to let 
her go near her mother." The old woman 
made it quite clear that this was because 
her daughter was keeping house with a man 
with whom there had been no marriage 
ceremony. In her simple code, to go to 
such a house would be to connive at 



68 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

sin, and while she was grateful that the 
man had established a control over her 
daughter which she herself had never been 
able to obtain, she always referred to her 
daughter as " fallen/' although no one knew 
better than she how unguarded the girl had 
been. As I saw how singularly free this 
mother was from self-reproach and how 
untouched by any indecisions or remorses 
for the past, I was once more impressed by 
the strength of the stout habits acquired 
by those who early become accustomed to 
fight off black despair. Such habits stand 
them in good stead in old age, and at least 
protect them from those pensive regrets 
and inconsolable sorrows which inevitably 
tend to surround whatever has once made 
for early happiness, as soon as it has ceased 
to exist. 

Many individual instances are found in 
which a woman, hard pressed by life, in- 
cludes within her tenderness the mother of 
an illegitimate child. A most striking ex- 
ample of this came to me through a woman 
whom I knew years ago when she daily 
brought her three children to the Hull- 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 69 

House day nursery, obliged to support 
them by her work in a neighboring laundry 
because her husband had deserted her. I 
recall her fatuous smile as she used to say 
that "Tommy is so pleased to see me at 
night that I can hear him shout ' Hello, 
ma' when I am a block away." I had 
known Tommy through many years ; peri- 
ods of adversity when his father was away 
were succeeded by periods of fitful pros- 
perity when his father returned from his 
wanderings with the circus with which "he 
could always find work," because he had 
once been a successful acrobat and later a 
clown, and "so could turn his hand to any- 
thing that was needed." 

Perhaps it was unavoidable that Tommy 
should have made his best friends among 
the warm-hearted circus people who were 
very kind to him after his father's death, 
and that long before the Child Labor Law 
permitted him to sing in Chicago saloons, 
he was doing a successful business singing 
in the towns of a neighboring state. He 
was a droll little chap "without any sense 
about taking care of himself," and in those 



70 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

days his mother not only missed his cheer- 
ful companionship but was constantly 
anxious about his health and morals. 
When he grew older and became a profes- 
sional he sent his mother money occasion- 
ally, although never very much and never 
with any regularity. She was always so 
pleased when it came that the two daughters 
supporting her with their steady wages 
were inclined to resent her obvious grati- 
fication, as they did the killing of the 
fatted calf on those rare occasions when 
the prodigal returned "between seasons " 
to visit his family. 

It is possible that his mother thus early 
acquired the habit of defending him, the 
black sheep, against the strictures of the 
good children who so easily become the 
self-righteous when they feel "put upon." 
However that may be, five years ago, after 
one daughter had been married to a skilled 
mechanic and the other, advanced to the 
position of a forewoman, was supporting her 
mother in the comparative idleness of keep- 
ing house for two people in three rooms, 
a forlorn girl appeared with a note from 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 71 

Tommy asking his mother "to help her out 
until the kid came and she could work 
again." 

The steady daughter would not permit 
"such a girl to cross the threshold," and 
the little household was finally broken up 
upon the issue. The daughter went to 
live with her married sister, while the 
mother, having moved into one room with 
"Tommy's girl," went back to the laundry 
in order to support herself and her guest. 

The daughters, having impressively told 
their mother that she could come to live 
with them whenever she "was willing to 
come alone," dropped the entire situation. 
In doing this, they were doubtless in- 
stinctively responding to a habit acquired 
through years of "keeping clear of the 
queer people father knew in the circus and 
the saloon crowds always hanging around 
Tommy," in their secret hope to come 
to know respectable young men. Con- 
scious that they had back of them the 
opinion of all righteous people they could 
not understand why their mother, for the 
sake of a bad girl, had deserted them in 



72 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

this praiseworthy effort in which hitherto 
she had been the prime mover. 

Tommy had sent his "girl" to his mother 
on the eve of his departure for "a grand 
tour to the Klondike region/' and since 
then, almost four years ago, she has heard 
nothing further from him. During the 
first half of the time the two women strug- 
gled on together as best they could, sup- 
porting themselves and the child who was 
brought daily to the nursery by his grand- 
mother. But the pretty little mother, grad- 
ually going back to her old occupation of 
dancing in the vaudeville, had more and 
more out-of-town engagements, and while 
she always divided her earnings with the 
baby, the grandmother suspected her of 
losing interest in him, a situation which 
was finally explained when she confessed 
that she was about to be married to a 
cabaret manager who "knew nothing of 
the past," and to beg that the baby might 
stay where he was. "Of course, I will 
pay board for him, but his father can be 
made to do something, too, if we can only 
get the law on him." 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 73 

It was at this point that I had the fol- 
lowing conversation with the grandmother, 
who was shrewd enough to see that the 
support of the baby was being left upon 
her hands, and that she could expect help 
from neither his father nor his mother, al- 
though she stoutly refused the advice that 
the whole matter be taken into the Court 
of Domestic Relations. "If I could only 
see Tommy once I think I could get him to 
help, but I can't find out where he is, and 
he may not be alive for all I know ; he was 
always that careless about himself. If he 
put on a new red necktie he'd never know 
if his bare toes were pushing out of his shoes. 
He probably didn't get proper clothes for 
"the Klondike region' and he may have 
been frozen to death before this. But 
whatever has happened to him, I can't 
let his baby go. I suppose I've learned to 
think differently about some things after 
all my years of living with a light-minded 
husband. Maggie came to see me last 
week, for she means to be a good daughter. 
She said that Carrie and Joe were buying a 
house way out on the West Side, that they 



74 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

were going to move into it this month, and 
that she and I could have a nice big room 
together. She said, too, that Carrie would 
charge only half rate board for me, and 
would be glad to have my help with her 
little children, for they both think that 
nobody has such a way with children as 
I have. The night before, when she and 
Carrie were playing with the little boys, 
they remembered some of the funny songs 
father used to teach Tommy, and how 
jolly we all were when he came home good- 
natured and would stand on his head to 
make the candy fall out of his pockets. 
I know the two girls really want me to come 
back, and that they are often homesick, 
but when I pointed to the bed where the 
baby was and asked, 'What about him?' 
Maggie turned as hard as nails and said as 
quick as a flash, 'We're all agreed that 
you'll have to put him in an institution. 
We'll never have any chance with the nice 
people in a swell neighborhood like ours 
if you bring the baby.' She looked real 
white then, and I felt sorry for her when 
she said, 'Why, they might even think he 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 75 

was my child, you never can tell/ although 
she was ashamed of that afterwards and 
cried a little before she left. She told me 
that she and Carrie, when they were chil- 
dren, were always talking of what they 
would do when they got old enough to work, 
how they would take care of me and move 
to a part of the city where nobody would 
know anything about the outlandish way 
their father and Tommy used to carry on. 
Of course, it was almost telling me that 
they didn't want me to come to see them if 
I kept the baby." 

My old friend was quite unable to for- 
mulate the motives which underlay her 
determination, but she implied that cling- 
ing to this helpless child was part of her 
unwavering affection for her son when, 
without any preamble, she concluded the 
conversation with the remark, "It's the 
way I always felt about him," as if further 
explanation were unnecessary. 

It was all doubtless a manifestation of 
Nature's anxious care so determined 
upon survival and so indifferent to morals 
that had induced her long devotion to 



76 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

her one child least equipped to take care 
of himself; and for the same reason the 
helpless little creature whose existence no 
one else was deeply concerned to preserve 
had become so entwined in her affections 
that separation was impossible. 

From time to time a mother goes further 
than this, in her determination to deal 
justly with the unhappy situation in which 
her daughter is placed. When the mother 
of a so-called fallen girl is of that type 
of respectability which is securely founded 
upon narrow precepts, inherited through 
generations of careful living, it requires 
genuine courage to ignore the social stigma 
in order to consider only the moral de- 
velopment of her child, although the re- 
sult of such courage doubtless minimizes 
the chagrin and disgrace for the girl herself. 

In one such instance the parents of the 
girl, who had been prevented from marry- 
ing her lover because the families on both 
sides objected to differences of religion, 
have openly faced the situation and made 
the baby a beloved member of the house- 
hold. The pretty young mother arrogates 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 77 

to herself a hint of martyrdom for her 
faith's sake, but the discipline and re- 
sponsibility are working wonders for her 
character. In her hope of earning money 
enough for two, she has been stirred to new 
ambition and is eagerly attending a busi- 
ness college. She suffers a certain amount 
of social ostracism but at the same time her 
steady courage excites genuine admiration. 
In another case a fearless mother exacts 
seven dollars a week in payment of the 
board for her daughter and the baby, al- 
though the girl earns but eight dollars a 
week in a cigar factory and buys such 
clothing for two as she can with the re- 
maining dollar. She admits that it is 
"hard sledding," but that the baby is 
"mighty nice." Whatever her state of 
mind, she evidently has no notion of re- 
belling against her mother's authority, and 
is humbly grateful that she was not turned 
out of doors when the situation was dis- 
covered. It is possible that the mother's 
remorse at her failure to guard her daugh- 
ter from wrong doing enables her thus 
grimly to defy social standards which, 



78 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

although they are based upon stern and 
narrow tenets, nevertheless epitomize the 
bitter wisdom of generations. Such 
mothers, overcoming that timidity which 
makes it so difficult to effect changes in 
daily living, make a genuine contribution 
to the solution of the vexed problem. 

In spite of much obtuseness on the part 
of those bound by the iron fetters of con- 
vention, these individual cases suggest a 
practical method of procedure. For quite 
as pity and fierce maternal affection for 
their own children drove mothers all over 
the world to ostracize and cruelly punish 
the "bad woman" who would destroy the 
home by taking away the breadwinner and 
the father, so it is possible that, under the 
changed conditions of modern life, this 
same pity for little children, this same con- 
cern that, even if they are the children 
of the outcast, they must still be nourished 
and properly reared, will make good the 
former wrongs. There has certainly been 
a great modification of the harsh judg- 
ments meted out in such cases, as women 
all over the world have endeavored, through 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 79 

the old bungling method of trial and 
error, to deal justly with individual situ- 
ations. Each case has been quietly judged 
by reference to an altered moral standard, 
for while the ethical code like the legal 
code stands in need of constant revision, 
the remodeling of the former is always pri- 
vate, tacit and informal in marked con- 
trast to the public and ceremonious acts 
of law-makers and judges when the latter 
is changed. 

Such measure of success as the organized 
Woman's Movement has attained in the 
direction of a larger justice has come 
through an overwhelming desire to cherish 
both the illegitimate child and his un- 
fortunate mother. In addition to that, 
the widespread effort of modern women to 
obtain a recognized legal status for them- 
selves and their own children has also 
been largely dependent upon this desire, 
at least in the beginnings of the movement. 
Women slowly had discovered that the 
severe attitude towards the harlot had not 
only become embodied in the statutory 
law concerning her, as thousands of court 



8o LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

decisions every day bear testimony, but had 
become registered in the laws and social 
customs pertaining to good women as 
well ; the Code Napoleon, which prohibited 
that search be made for the father of an 
illegitimate child, also denied the custody 
of her children to the married mother; 
those same states in which the laws con- 
sidered a little girl of ten years the seducer 
of a man of well-known immorality, did 
not allow a married woman to hold her 
own property nor to retain her own wages. 
The enthusiasm responsible for the world- 
wide Woman's Movement was generated 
in the revolt against such gross injustices. 
The most satisfactory achievements of the 
movement have been secured in the Scan- 
dinavian countries, where the splendid code 
of laws protecting all women and children 
was founded on the instinct to defend the 
weakest, and upon a determination to 
lighten that social opprobrium which makes 
it so unreasonably difficult for a mother to 
support a child born out of wedlock. In 
Germany, when the presence of over a 
million illegitimate children under the age 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 8l 

of fourteen years made the situation acute, 
the best women of the nation, asserting 
that all attempts to deal out social pun- 
ishment upon the mothers resulted only in 
a multitude of ill-nourished and weakened 
children, founded "The Mutterchutz" 
Movement. Through its efforts to secure 
justice and protection for these mothers, 
it has come to be the great defender of 
the legal rights of all German women. 

Many achievements of the modern move- 
ment demonstrate that woman deals most 
efficiently with fresh experiences when she 
coalesces them into the impressions Memory 
has kept in store for her. Eagerly seeking 
continuity with the past by her own secret 
tests of affinity, she reinforces and encour- 
ages Memory's instinctive processes of 
selection. If she develops her craving for 
continuity into a willingness to subordinate 
a part to the whole and into a sustained 
and self-forgetful search for congruity and 
harmony with a life which is greater than 
hers, she may lift the entire selective pro- 
cess into the realm of Art ; at least so far 
as Art is dependent upon proportion and 



82 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

so far as beauty hangs upon an ineffable 
balance between restraint and inclusion. 
Hungry for this finely proportioned living, 
she may at length become a disciple of 
Diotema, the wisest woman of antiquity, 
who asserted that the life which above all 
we should live, must be discovered by 
faithful and strenuous search for ever- 
widening kinds of beauty. 

In woman's search for "the eternal 
moment," balanced independently of time 
itself because so melted both into memories 
of the past and into surmises of new beauty 
for the future of her children's children, she 
may recognize as one of the universal har- 
monies the touching devotion of the endless 
multitude of mothers who were the humble 
vessels for life's continuance and who carried 
the burden in safety to the next generation. 

Maternal affection and solicitude, in 
woman's remembering heart, may at length 
coalesce into a chivalric protection for all 
that is young and unguarded. This chiv- 
alry of women expressing protection for 
those at the bottom of society, so far as it 
has already developed, suggests a return to 



DISTURBING CONVENTIONS 83 

that idealized version of chivalry which 
was the consecration of strength to the 
defence of weakness, unlike the actual chiv- 
alry of the armed knight who served his 
lady with gentle courtesy while his fields 
were ploughed by peasant women mis- 
shapen through toil and hunger. 

As an example of this new chivalry, the 
Hungarian women have recently risen in 
protest against a proposed military regu- 
lation requiring that all young women in 
domestic service, who are living in the 
vicinity of barracks, be examined each week 
by medical officers in order to protect the 
soldiers from disease. The good women in 
Hungary spiritedly resented the assumption 
that these girls, simply because they are the 
least protected of any class in the commu- 
nity, should be subjected to this insult. 

An instance of this sort once again il- 
lustrates that moral passion is the only 
solvent for prejudice, and that women have 
come to feel reproached and disturbed 
when they ignore the dynamic urgency of 
memories as fundamental as those upon 
which prohibitive conventions are based. 



CHAPTER IV 

WOMEN'S MEMORIES INTEGRATING IN- 
DUSTRY 

IF it has always been the mission of lit- 
erature to translate the particular act into 
something of the universal, to reduce the 
element of crude pain in the isolated ex- 
perience by bringing to the sufferer a real- 
ization that his is but the common lot, 
this mission may have been performed 
through such stories as that of the Devil 
Baby for simple, hardworking women who 
at any given moment compose the bulk of 
the women in the world. 

Certainly some of the visitors to the 
Devil Baby attempted to generalize and 
evidently found a certain enlargement of 
the horizon, an interpretation of life as it 
were, in the effort. They exhibited that 
confidence which sometimes comes to the 
more literate person when, finding himself 

84 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 85 

morally isolated among those hostile to 
his immediate aims, his reading assures 
him that other people in the world have 
thought as he does. Later when he dares 
to act on the conviction his own experi- 
ence has forced upon him, he has become 
so conscious of a cloud of witnesses torn 
out of literature and warmed into living 
comradeship, that he scarcely distinguishes 
them from the likeminded people actually 
in the world whom he has later discovered 
as a consequence of his deed. 

In some of the reminiscences related by 
working women I was surprised, not so 
much by the fact that memory could in- 
tegrate the individual experience into a 
sense of relation with the more impersonal 
aspects of life, as that the larger meaning 
had been obtained when the fructifying 
memory had had nothing to feed upon but 
the harshest and most monotonous of in- 
dustrial experiences. 

I held a conversation with one such 
woman when she came to confess that her 
long struggle was over and that she and 
her sister had at last turned their faces to 



86 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

the poorhouse. She clearly revealed not 
only that she had caught a glimpse of the 
great social forces of her day, but that she 
had had the ability to modify her daily 
living by what she had perceived. 

Perhaps, under the shadow of a tragic 
surrender, she had obtained a new sense of 
values, or at least had made up her mind 
that it was not worth while any longer to 
conceal her genuine experiences, for she 
talked more fully of her hard life than I 
had ever heard her before in the many 
years I had known her. She related in 
illuminating detail an incident in her long 
effort of earning, by ill-paid and unskilled 
labor, the money with which to support 
her decrepit mother and her imbecile sister. 
For more than fifty years she had never 
for a moment considered the possibility of 
sending either of them to a public institu- 
tion, although it had become almost impos- 
sible to maintain such a household after the 
mother, who lived to be ninety-four years 
old, had become utterly distraught. 

She was still sharing her scanty livelihood 
with the feeble-minded sister, although she 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 87 

herself was unable to do anything but wash 
vegetables and peel potatoes in a small 
restaurant of her neighborhood. The cold 
water necessary to these processes made her 
hands, already crippled with rheumatism, 
so bad that on some days she could not 
hold anything smaller than a turnip, al- 
though the other people in the kitchen 
surreptitiously helped her all they could 
and the cooks gave her broken food to carry 
home to the ever hungry sister. 

She told of her monotonous years in a 
box factory, where she had always worked 
with the settled enmity of the other em- 
ployes. They regarded her as a pace 
setter, and she, obliged to work fast and 
furiously in order to keep three people, 
and full of concern for her old mother's 
many unfulfilled needs, had never under- 
stood what the girls meant when they 
talked about standing by each other. 

She did not change in her attitude even 
when she found the prices of piece work 
went down lower and lower, so that at 
last she was obliged to work overtime late 
into the night in order to earn the small 



88 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

amount she had previously earned by day. 
She was seventy years old when the legality 
of the Illinois Ten Hour Law was con- 
tested, and her employer wanted her to 
testify in court that she was opposed to 
the law because she could not have sup- 
ported her old mother all those years un- 
less she had been allowed to work nights. 
She found herself at last dimly conscious 
of what it was that her long time enemies, 
the union girls, had been trying to do, 
and a subconscious loyalty to her own 
kind made it impossible for her to bear 
testimony against them. She did not 
analyze her motives but told me that, 
fearing she might yield to her employer's 
request, in sheer panic she had abruptly 
left his factory and moved her helpless 
household to another part of the city on 
the very day she was expected to appear in 
court. In her haste she left four days un- 
paid wages behind her, and moving the 
family took all the money she had pains- 
takingly saved for the coming winter's 
coal. She had unknowingly moved into a 
neighborhood of cheap restaurants, and 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 89 

from that time on she worked in any of 
them which would employ her until now 
at last she was too feeble to be of much 
use to anybody. 

Although she had never joined the Union 
which finally became so flourishing in the 
box factory she had left, she was conscious 
that in a moment of great temptation she 
had refrained from seeking her own ad- 
vantage at the expense of others^ As she 
bunglingly tried to express her motives, 
she said: "The Irish you know I was 
ten years old when we came over often 
feel like that ; it isn't exactly that you are 
sorry after you have done a thing, nor so 
much that you don't do it because you know 
you will be sorry afterwards, nor that any- 
thing in particular will happen to you if 
you do it, but that you haven't the heart 
for it, that it goes against your nature." 

When I expressed my admiration for her 
prompt action she replied: "I have never 
told this before except to one person, to a 
woman who was organizing for the gar- 
ment workers and who came to my house 
one night about nine o'clock, just as I was 



90 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

having my supper. I had it late in those 
days because I used to scrub the restaurant 
floor after everybody left. My sister was 
asleep back of the stove, I looked sharp 
not to wake her up and I don't believe the 
Union woman ever knew that she wasn't 
just like other people. The organizer was 
looking for some of the women living in 
our block who had been taking work 
from the shops ever since the strike was on. 
She was clean tired out, and when I offered 
her a cup of tea she said as quick as a 
flash, 'You are not a scab, are you?' I 
just held up my poor old hands before her 
face, swollen red from scrubbing and full 
of chilblains, and I told her that I couldn't 
sew a stitch if my life depended on it. 

"When I offered her the second cup of 
tea a real educated-looking woman she 
was, and she must have been used to better 
tea than mine boiled out of the old tea 
leaves the restaurant cook always let me 
bring home I said to her, 'My hands 
aren't the only reason I'm not scabbing. 
I see too much of the miserable wages 
these women around here get for their 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 91 

sweatshop work, and I've done enough 
harm already with my pace setting, and 
my head so full of my poor old mother that 
I never thought of anybody else/ She 
smiled at me and nodded her head over 
my old cracked cup. 'You are a Union 
woman all right/ she said. "You have the 
true spirit whether you carry a card or 
not. I am mighty glad to have met you 
after all the scabs I have talked to this 
day/" 

The old woman repeated the words as one 
who solemnly recalls the great phrase which 
raised him into a knightly order, revealing 
a secret pride in her unavowed fellowship 
with Trades Unions, for she had vaguely 
known at the time of the Ten Hour trial 
that powerful federations of them had 
paid for the lawyers and had gathered the 
witnesses. Some dim memory of Irish 
ancestors, always found on the side of the 
weak in the unending struggle with the 
oppressions of the strong, may have de- 
termined her action. She may have been 
dominated by a subconscious suggestion 
"from the dust that sleeps," a suggestion 



92 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

so simple, so insistent and monotonous 
that it had victoriously survived its original 
sphere of conduct. 

It was in keeping with the drab colored 
experiences of her seventy hard years that 
her contribution to the long struggle should 
have been one of inglorious flight, never- 
theless she had gallantly recognized the 
Trades Union organizer as a comrade in a 
common cause. She cherished in her heart 
the memory of one golden moment when 
she had faintly heard the trumpets summon 
her and had made her utmost response. 

When the simple story of a lifetime of 
sacrifice to family obligations and of one 
supreme effort to respond to a social claim 
came to an end, I reflected that for more 
than half a century the narrator had freely 
given all her time, all her earnings, all her 
affections, and yet during the long period 
had developed no habit of self-pity. At 
a crucial moment she had been able to 
estimate life, not in terms of her self- 
immolation but in relation to a hard pressed 
multitude of fellow workers. 

As she sat there, a tall, gaunt woman 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 93 

broken through her devotion, she inevitably 
suggested the industrial wrongs and op- 
pressions suffered by the women who, for- 
gotten and neglected, perform so much of 
the unlovely drudgery upon which our in- 
dustrial order depends. At the moment 
I could recall only one of her starved am- 
bitions which to my knowledge had ever 
been attained. When a friend tenderly 
placed a pair of white satin slippers upon 
the coffined feet of her old mother who 
for more than ninety years had travelled 
a long hard road and had stumbled against 
many stones, the loving heart of the aged 
daughter overflowed. "It is herself would 
know how I prayed for white satin shoes 
for the burial, thinking as how they might 
make it up to mother, she who never 
knew where the next pair was coming from 
and often had to borrow to go to Mass." 
I remembered that as my friend and I 
left the spotless bare room wrapped in the 
mystery of death and walked back to Hull- 
House together, we passed a little child 
who proudly challenged our attention to 
his new shoes, "shiny" in the first moment 



94 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

of joyous possession. We could but recog- 
nize the epitome of the hard struggle of 
the very poor, from the moment they 
scramble out of their rude cradles until 
they are lowered into their "partial pay- 
ment" graves, to keep shoes upon their 
feet. The rare moments of touching pleas- 
ure when the simple desire for "a new 
pair" is fulfilled are doubtless indicated 
in the early fairy tales by the rewards of 
glistening red shoes or glass slippers to 
the good child ; in the religious allegories 
which turn life itself into one long pil- 
grimage, by the promises to the faithful 
that they shall be shod with the sandals 
of righteousness and to the blessed ones, 
who having formally renounced the world, 
forswearing shoes altogether and hum- 
bly walking on without them, that their 
bruised and torn feet shall yet gleam lily- 
white on the streets of Paradise. 

I suddenly saw in this worn old woman 
who sat before me, what George Sand 
described as "a rare and austere produc- 
tion of human suffering" and was so filled 
with a fresh consciousness of the long 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 95 

barren road travelled by the patient 
mother and daughter, that it merged into 
the Via Dolorosa of the Poor of the world. 
It may have been through this suggestion 
of an actual street that my memory vividly 
evoked a group of Russian pilgrims I had 
once seen in Holy Week as they trium- 
phantly approached Jerusalem. Their 
heads, garlanded in wild flowers still fresh 
with early dew, were lifted in joyous sing- 
ing but their broken and bleeding feet, 
bound in white cloth and thrust into san- 
dals of stripped bark, were the actual s^<> 
rifice they were devoutly offering at the 
Sepulchre. 

As my mind swiftly came back from 
the blossoming fields of Palestine to the 
crowded industrial district of Chicago, I 
found myself recalling a pensive remark 
made by the gifted Rachel Varnhagen, a 
century ago. "Careless Fate never re- 
quires of us what we are really capable of 
doing." 

This overwhelming sense of the waste in 
woman's unused capacity came to me 
again during a Garment Workers' strike, 



96 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

when some of the young women involved 
were sitting in the very chairs occupied 
so recently by the visitors to the Devil 
Baby. They brought a curious reminder 
of the overworked and heavily burdened 
mothers who had yet been able to keep 
the taste of life in their mouths and who 
could not be overborne, because their en- 
durance was rooted in simple and instinc- 
tive human affections. During the long 
strike these young women endured all 
sorts of privations without flinching ; some 
of them actual hunger, most of them dis- 
approbation from their families, and all of 
them a loss of that money which alone could 
procure for them the American standards 
so highly prized. Through participation 
in the strike they all took the risk of losing 
their positions, and yet, facing a future of 
unemployment and wretchedness, they dis- 
played a stubborn endurance which held 
out week after week. 

Perhaps because of my recent conver- 
sations with old women I received the 
impression that the very power of resist- 
ance in such a socialized undertaking as a 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 97 

strike, presents a marked contrast in both 
its origin and motives to the traditional 
type of endurance exercised by the mothers 
and grandmothers of the strikers or by 
their acquaintances among domestic women 
living in the same crowded tenements. 

When a mother cares for a sick child 
for days and nights without relief, the long 
period of solicitude and dread exhausting 
every particle of her vitality, her strength 
is constantly renewed from the vast reser- 
voirs of maternal love and pity whenever 
she touches the soft flesh or hears the 
plaintive little voice. But such girls as 
the strikers represent are steadily bending 
their energies to loveless and mechanical 
labor, and are obliged to go on without this 
direct and personal renewal of their powers 
of resistance. They must be sustained as 
soldiers on a forced march are sustained, 
by their sense of comradeship in high en- 
deavor. Naturally, some of the young 
working women are never able to achieve 
this and can keep on with the monotony 
of factory work only when they persuade 
themselves that they are getting ready, 



98 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

and have not yet begun their own lives, 
because real living for them must include 
a home of their own and children to 
"do for." 

Such unutilized dynamic power illus- 
trates the stupid waste of those impulses and 
affections, registered in the very bodily struc- 
ture itself, which are ruthlessly pushed aside 
and considered of no moment to the work 
in which so many women are now engaged. 
My conversations with these girls of 
modern industry continually filled me with 
surprise that, required as they are to work 
under conditions unlike those which women 
have ever before encountered, they have 
not only made a remarkable adaptation 
but have so ably equipped themselves with 
a new set of motives. The girl who stands 
on one spot for fifty-six hours each week as 
she feeds a machine, endlessly repeating 
the identical motions of her arms and 
wrists, is much further from the type of 
woman's traditional activity than her 
mother who cooks, cleans, and washes for 
the household. The young woman who 
spends her time in packing biscuits into 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 99 

boxes which come to her down a chute 
and are whirled away from her on a minia- 
ture trolley, has never even seen how the 
biscuits are made, for the factory proper 
is separated from the packing room by a 
door with the sign "No Admittance." 
She must work all day without the vital 
and direct interest in the hourly results 
of her labors which her mother had. 

These girls present a striking antithesis 
to the visitors to the Devil Baby who in 
their forlorn and cheerless efforts were 
merely continuing the traditional struggle 
against brutality, indifference, and neglect 
that helpless old people and little children 
might not be trampled in the dust. For 
these simple women it is the conditions 
under which the struggle is waged which 
have changed, rather than the nature of 
the contest. Even in this unlovely strug- 
gle, the older women utilize well-seasoned 
faculties, in contrast to the newly devel- 
oped powers required by the multitude of 
young girls who for the first time in the 
long history of woman's labor, are uniting 
their efforts in order to obtain opportu- 



100 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

nities for a fuller and more normal living. 
Organizing with men and women of divers 
nationalities they are obliged to form new 
ties absolutely unlike family bonds. ' On 
the other hand, these girls possess the enor- 
mous advantage over women of the do- 
mestic type of having experienced the dis- 
cipline arising from impersonal obligations 
and of having tasted the freedom from 
economic dependence, so valuable that 
too heavy a price can scarcely be paid 
for it. 

This clash between the traditional con- 
ception of woman's duty narrowed solely 
to family obligations and the claims arising 
from the complexity of the industrial situ- 
ation, manifests scarcely a suggestion of 
the latent war so vaguely apprehended 
from the earliest times as a possibility be- 
tween men and women. Even the re- 
strained Greeks believed that when the 
obscure women at the bottom of society 
could endure no longer and "the oppressed 
women struck back, it would not be justice 
which came but the revenge of madness/' 
My own observation has discovered little 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 101 

suggesting this mood, certainly not among 
the women active in the Labor Movement. 

I recall the recent experience of an or- 
ganizer whom I very much admire for her 
valiant services in the garment trades and 
whom I have known from her earliest 
girlhood. Her character confirms the con- 
tention that our chief concern with the 
past is not what we have done, nor the ad- 
ventures we have met, but the moral re- 
action of bygone events within ourselves. 

As an orphaned child she had been cared 
for by two aunts who owned between 
them a little shop which pretended to 
be a tailoring establishment, but which 
in reality was a distributing centre for 
home work among the Italian women and 
newly immigrated Russian Jews living in 
the neighborhood. Her aunts, because 
they were Americans, superior in education 
and resources to the humble home workers, 
by dint of much bargaining both with the 
wholesale houses from which they pro- 
cured the garments, and with the foreign 
women to whom they distributed them, 
had been able to secure a very good com- 



102 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

mission. For many years they had made 
a comfortable living, and in addition had 
acquired an exalted social position in the 
neighborhood, for they were much looked 
up to by those so dependent upon them 
for work. 

Although my friend was expected to 
help in the shop as much as possible, 
she was sent regularly to school and had 
already "graduated from the eighth grade," 
when a law was passed in the Illinois 
legislature, popularly known as the Anti 
Sweat-shop Law, which, within a year, 
had ruined her aunts' business. After 
they had been fined in court for violating 
the law, a case which obtained much pub- 
licity because smallpox was discovered in 
two of the tenement houses in which the 
home finishers were living, the aunts were 
convinced that they could not continue to 
give out work to the Italian and Rus- 
sian Jewish women. Reluctantly foregoing 
their commissions they then tried crowd- 
ing their own house and shop with workers, 
only to be again taken into court and 
fined when the inspector discovered their 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 103 

kitchen and bedrooms full of half-finished 
garments. They both flatly refused to go 
into a factory to work, and after a futile 
attempt to revive the tailoring business, 
never very genuine, they were finally re- 
duced to the dimensions of the tiny shop it- 
self, which, under the new regulations as to 
light and air could accommodate but three 
people. My friend was at once taken from 
school and made one of these ill-paid work- 
ers and the little household was held to- 
gether on the pittance the three could 
earn. 

It was but natural, perhaps, that as these 
displaced proprietors became poorer they 
should ever grow more bitter against the 
reformers and the Trades Unionists who, 
between them, had secured the "high- 
brow" legislation which had destroyed 
their honest business. 

The niece was married at eighteen to a 
clerk in a neighboring department store 
who worked four evenings a week and every 
other Sunday in his determination to get 
on. The bride moved into a more pros- 
perous neighborhood and I saw little of 



104 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

her husband or herself for ten years, during 
which time they made four payments on 
the little house they occupied fully three 
miles from the now abandoned sweat-shop. 
Her husband worked hard with a consuming 
desire to rear his children in good sur- 
roundings as much as possible unlike the 
slums, as he somewhat brutally designated 
the neighborhood of his own youth. 
Through his unrelieved years in the cheap 
department store where, however, he had 
always felt a great satisfaction in being well 
dressed and had resisted any attempts of 
his fellow clerks to shorten their prepos- 
terous hours by trades-union organization, 
his health was gradually undermined and 
he finally developed tuberculosis. He was 
unable to support his family during the 
last decade of his life, and in her desperate 
need my friend went back to the only 
trade she had, that of finishing garments. 
During these years, although she sold the 
little house and placed her boy in a semi- 
philanthropic institution, she steadily faced 
the problem of earning insufficient wages 
for the support of the family, the pang of 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 105 

her failure constantly augmented by the 
knowledge that, in spite of her utmost 
efforts, the invalid never received the food 
and care his condition required. The cloth- 
ing factory in which she then worked 
illustrated the lowest ebb in the fortune of 
the garment workers in American cities 
when, the sweat shop having been largely 
eliminated through the efforts of the fac- 
tory inspectors, the workers from every 
land were crowded into the hastily organ- 
ized factories. Separated by their diverse 
languages and through their long habits of 
home work, they had become too secretive 
even to tell one another the amount of wages 
each was receiving. It was as if the com- 
petition had been transferred from the 
sweat shop contractors to the individual 
workers themselves, sitting side by side in 
the same room, and perhaps it was not 
surprising that the workers felt as if they 
had been hunted down into their very 
kitchens and their poverty cruelly exposed 
to public view. 

My friend shared this wretchedness and 
carried into it the bitterness of her early 



106 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

experience. She says now that she never 
caught even a suggestion that this might 
be but a transitional period to a more 
ordered sort of industrial life. 

She did not tell me just when and how 
she had come to the conclusion that wages 
must be higher, that legal enactment for 
better conditions must be supplemented 
by the efforts of the workers themselves, 
but it was absolutely clear that she had 
independently reached that conclusion long 
before a strike in the clothing industry 
brought her into contact with the organized 
Labor Movement. It was certainly not 
until the year of her husband's death that 
she became aware of the industrial changes 
which had been taking place during the 
twenty-two years since her aunts' business 
had been ruined. 

She was grateful that the knowledge had 
first come to her through an Italian girl 
working by her side, for, as she explained, 
her old attitude toward the "dagoes," as 
a people to be exploited, had to be thor- 
oughly changed before she could be of much 
real use in organizing a trade in which so 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 107 

many Italians were engaged. Even dur- 
ing the strike itself, to which she was 
thoroughly committed, having been con- 
vinced both of its inevitability and of the 
justice of its demands, she resented the 
fact that the leadership was in the hands of 
Russian Jews and, secure in her American- 
ism, she felt curiously aloof from the group 
with which she was so intimately identified. 

A few months after the strike my friend 
fortunately secured a place in a manufac- 
tory of men's clothing, in which there had 
been instituted a Trade Board for the ad- 
justment of grievances, and where wages 
and hours were determined by joint agree- 
ment. When she was elected to the posi- 
tion of shop representative she found 
herself in the midst of one of the most in- 
teresting experiments being carried on in the 
United States, not only from the standpoint 
of labor but from that of applying the prin- 
ciples of representative government in a new 
field. She felt the stimulus of being a part 
in that most absorbing of all occupations 
the reconstruction of a living world. 

One evening, at Hull-House, as she came 



108 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

out of a citizenship class she had been 
attending, she tried to express some of the 
implications of the great undertaking in 
which more than ten thousand clothing 
employes are engaged. She repeated the 
statement made by the leader of the class 
that it was the solemn duty and obligation 
of the United States not only to keep a 
republican form of government alive upon 
the face of the earth and to fulfill the expec- 
tations of the founders but to modify and 
develope that type of government as con- 
ditions changed ; he had said that the 
spirit of the New England town meeting 
might be manifested through a referendum 
vote in a large city, and that it must find 
some such vehicle of expression if it would 
survive under changed conditions. Her 
eyes were quite shining as she made her 
application to the experiment being car- 
ried on in the great clothing factory, with 
its many shops and departments unified 
in mutual effort. Evidently her attention 
had been caught by the similarity between 
the town meeting in its relation to a more 
elaborated form of government and the 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 109 

small isolated sweat-shop such as that 
formerly managed by her aunts, in its re- 
lation to the "biggest clothing factory in 
the world." She had heard her fellow 
workers say that the "greenhorn" often 
found much friendliness in a small shop 
where his own language was spoken, and 
where he could earn at least a humble 
living until he grew accustomed to the 
habits of a new country, whereas he would 
have been lost and terrified in a factory. 
She felt very strongly the necessity of trans- 
lating this sense of comradeship and friendli- 
ness into larger terms, and she believed that 
it could be done by the united workers. 

As she sat by my desk, this woman who 
had not yet attained her fortieth year 
looked much older, as if illustrating the 
saying that hard labor so early robs the 
poor man of his youth that it makes his 
old age too long. She seemed to me for the 
moment to have gathered up in her own 
experience the transition from old con- 
ditions to new and to be standing on the 
threshold of a great development in the 
lives of working women. 



no LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

As if she were conscious that I was re- 
calling her past with which I had been so 
familiar, she began to speak again. "You 
know that I have both of my children with 
me now; the girl graduates from the 
Normal School in June and hopes to put 
herself through the University after she has 
taught for a few years. She reminds me 
of her father in her anxiety to know people 
of education, to get on in the world, 
and I am sure she will succeed. The boy 
has caught the other motive of pulling up 
with his own trade and of standing by the 
organized Labor Movement. Of course, 
sewing was too dull for him, and besides 
he grew ambitious to be a machinist when 
he was in the Industrial School where I 
put him with such a breaking of the heart 
when he was only ten years old. He has 
to admit, however, that even his own 
Machinists' Union, with its traditional 
trade agreements and joint boards, is far 
behind our experiment. He went with me 
to the banquet on May Day. We had 
marched through the Loop in celebration 
of our new agreement and had stirring 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY III 

speeches at the Auditorium in the after- 
noon, but it was in the evening that we 
really felt at home with each other. When 
he saw the tremendous enthusiasm for our 
beloved leader my boy, I am sorry to 
say, is a little inclined to despise foreigners 
and also tailors because they aren't as 
big and brawny as the members of his 
dear Machinists' Union and really 
caught some notion of v the statesmanlike 
ability required for the successful manage- 
ment of such a complicated and difficult 
industrial experiment, and when he real- 
ized that the ten per cent increase provided 
for in the new agreement was to go in 
greater proportion to those at the lower 
end of the scale, he suddenly forgot his 
prejudices and I saw him applauding with 
his hands and feet as if he had really let 
loose at last. 

"Of course, it hasn't been easy for me 
even during these later years to keep Helen 
in school and to support my aunt who is 
now too old and broken even to keep house 
for us. But we have got on, and quite 
aside from everything else I am thankful 



112 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

to have had a small share in this forward 
step in American democracy at least, 
that's what they called it at the banquet/' 
she ended shyly. 

The experience of my friend bore testi- 
mony that in spite of all their difficulties 
and handicaps, something of social value is 
forced out of the very situation itself 
among that vast multitude of women whose 
oppression through the centuries has typi- 
fied a sense of helpless and intolerable 
wrongs. Many of them, even the older 
ones, are being made slowly conscious of 
the subtle and impalpable filaments that 
secretly bind their experiences and moods 
into larger relations, and they are filled 
with a new happiness analogous to that of 
little children when they are first taught 
to join hands in ordered play. 

Is such enthusiastic participation in or- 
ganized effort but one manifestation of 
that desire for liberty and for a larger 
participation in life, found in great women's 
souls all over the world ? 

In pursuance of such a desire the working 
women have the enormous advantage of 



INTEGRATING INDUSTRY 113 

constant association with each other, an 
advantage dimly perceived even by pioneer 
women two hundred years ago. 

The hostesses of the famous drawing- 
rooms of the eighteenth century laid great 
stress on human intercourse as the indi- 
vidual's best means of cultivation. Cer- 
tain French women gave as a raison d'etre 
for their brilliant salons that "people 
must come together in order to exercise 
justice," and they became enormously 
proud of the fact that by the end of the 
century "all Europe was thrown into a 
state of agitation if injustice were com- 
mitted in any corner of it." 

This hypothesis was gallantly laid down 
a hundred years before the industrial revo- 
lution which, in its consummation, has con- 
gregated millions of women into factories 
all over the world. These myriad women, 
most of them young and untrained and all 
of them working under new industrial con- 
ditions, are gradually learning to "exer- 
cise justice" if only because they have 
"come together." Their association has 
been accomplished under the stress of a 



114 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

common necessity, and they have been 
tutored in a mass at the hard school of 
bitter experience. 

Were the sheltered drawing-room ladies 
the forerunners of such contemporary ad- 
vocates of industrial justice or do we find 
a better prototype in those simple old 
women who, having reared their own chil- 
dren and having come to be regarded as a 
depository for domestic wisdom, dispense 
sound advice to bewildered mothers which 
always contains the admonition, "Never 
be partial to any one of them, always be 
as just as you know how." 

Possibly women's organizations of all 
types are but providing ever-widening chan- 
nels through which woman's moral energy 
may flow, revivifying life by new streams 
fed in the upper reaches of her undis- 
covered capacities. In either case, we may 
predict that to control old impulses so that 
they may be put to social uses, to serve the 
present through memories hoarding woman's 
genuine experiences, may liberate energies 
hitherto unused and may result in a notable 
enrichment of the pattern of human culture. 



CHAPTER V 
WOMEN'S MEMORIES CHALLENGING WAR 

I WAS sharply reminded of an obvious 
division between 'high tradition and current 
conscience in several conversations I held 
during the great European war with women 
who had sent their sons to the front in un- 
questioning obedience to the demands of 
the State, but who, owing to their own 
experiences, had found themselves in the 
midst of that ever-recurring struggle, often 
tragic and bitter, between two conceptions 
of duty, one of which is antagonistic to 
the other. 

One such woman, 1 who had long been 
identified with the care of delinquent chil- 

1 The following conversation is a composite made from 
several talks held with each of two women representing 
both sides of the conflict. Their opinions and observations 
are merged into one because in so many particulars they 
were either identical or overlapping. Both women called 
themselves patriots, but each had become convinced of the 
folly of war. 

"5 



Il6 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

dren and had worked for many years 
towards the establishment of a Children's 
Court, had asked me many questions con- 
cerning the psychopathic clinic in the Juve- 
nile Court in Chicago, comparing it to the 
brilliant work accomplished in her own 
city through the cooperation of the univer- 
sity faculty. The Imperial government 
itself had recently recognized the value 
of this work and at the outbreak of the 
war was rapidly developing a system 
through which the defective child might be 
discovered early in his school career, and 
might not only be saved from delinquency 
but such restricted abilities as he possessed 
be trained for the most effective use. 
"Through all these years," she said, "I 
had grown accustomed to the fact that 
the government was deeply concerned in 
the welfare of the least promising child. 
I had felt my own efforts so identified with 
it that I had unconsciously come to regard 
the government as an agency for nurturing 
human life and had apparently forgotten 
its more primitive functions. 

"I was proud of the fact that my son 



CHALLENGING WAR 117 

held a state position as professor of Indus- 
trial Chemistry in the University, because 
I knew that the research in his department 
would ultimately tend to alleviate the 
harshness of factory conditions, and to 
make for the well-being of the working 
classes in whose children I had become so 
interested. 

"When my son's regiment was mobilized 
and sent to the front I think that it never 
occurred to me, any more than it did to 
him, to question his duty. His profes- 
sional training made him a valuable mem- 
ber of the Aviation Corps, and when, in 
those first weeks of high patriotism his 
letters reported successful scouting or even 
devastating raids, I felt only a solemn 
satisfaction. But gradually through the 
months, when always more of the people's 
food supply and constantly more men 
were taken by the government for its 
military purposes, when I saw the state 
institutions for defectives closed, the 
schools abridged or dismissed, women and 
children put to work in factories under 
hours and conditions which had been 



n8 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

legally prohibited years before, when the 
very governmental officials who had been 
so concerned for the welfare of the helpless 
were bent only upon the destruction of the 
enemy at whatever cost to their fellow-citi- 
zens, the State itself gradually became for 
me an alien and hostile thing. 

"In response to the appeal made by the 
government to the instinct of self-pres- 
ervation, the men of the nation were ar- 
dent and eager to take any possible risks, 
to suffer every hardship, and were proud 
to give their lives in their country's ser- 
vice. But was it inevitable, I constantly 
asked myself, that the great nations of 
Europe should be reduced to such a primi- 
tive appeal ? Why should they ignore all 
the other motives which enter into modern 
patriotism and are such an integral part of 
devotion to the state that they must in 
the end be reckoned with ? 

"I am sure that I had reached these 
conclusions before my own tragedy came, 
before my son was fatally wounded in a 
scouting aeroplane and his body later 
thrown overboard into a lonely swamp. 



CHALLENGING WAR 119 

It was six weeks before I knew what had 
happened and it was during that period 
that I felt most strongly the folly and 
waste of putting men, trained as my son 
had been, to the barbaric business of kill- 
ing. This tendency in my thinking may 
have been due to a hint he had given me 
in the very last letter I ever received from 
him, of a change that was taking place 
within himself. He wrote that whenever 
he heard the firing of a huge field-piece he 
knew that the explosion consumed years 
of the taxes which had been slowly ac- 
cumulated by some hard-working farmer 
or shopkeeper, and that he unconsciously 
calculated how fast industrial research 
would have gone forward, had his de- 
partment been given once a decade the 
costs of a single day of warfare, with the 
government's command to turn back into 
alleviation of industrial conditions the taxes 
which the people had paid. He regretted 
that he was so accustomed to analysis that 
his mind would not let the general situ- 
ation alone but wearily went over it again 
and again ; and then he added that this 



120 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

war was tearing down the conception of 
government which had been so carefully de- 
veloped during this generation in the minds 
of the very men who had worked hardest 
to fulfill that conception. 

"Although the letter sounded like a 
treatise on government, I knew there was 
a personal pang somewhere behind this 
sombre writing, even though he added his 
old joking promise that when their fathers 
were no longer killed in industry, he would 
see what he could do for my little idiots. 

"At the very end of the letter he wrote, 
and they were doubtless the last words he 
ever penned, that he felt as if science her- 
self in this mad world had also become 
cruel and malignant. 

"I learned later that it was at this time 
that he had been consulted in the manu- 
facture of asphyxiating gases, because the 
same gases are used in industry and he had 
made experiments to determine their poi- 
sonousness in different degrees of dilution. 
The original investigation with which he 
had been identified had been carried on 
that the fumes released in a certain indus- 



CHALLENGING WAR 121 

trial process might be prevented from in- 
juring the men who worked in the factory. 
I know how hard it must have been for 
him to put knowledge acquired in his long 
efforts to protect normal living to the 
brutal use of killing men. It was literally 
a forced act of prostitution." 

As if to free her son's memory from any 
charge of lack of patriotism, after a few 
moments she continued : "These modern 
men of science are red-blooded, devoted 
patriots, facing dangers of every sort in 
mines and factories and leading strenuous 
lives in spite of the popular conception of 
the pale anaemic scholar, but because they 
are equally interested in scientific ex- 
periments wherever they may be carried 
on, they inevitably cease to think of 
national boundaries in connection with 
their work. The international mind, which 
really does exist in spite of the fact that it 
is not yet equipped with adequate organs 
for international government, has become 
firmly established, at least among scientists. 
They have known the daily stimulus of a 
wide and free range of contacts. They 



122 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

have become interpenetrated with the 
human consciousness of fellow scientists 
all over the world. 

" I hope that I am no whining coward 
my son gave his life to his country as 
many another brave man has done, but 
I do envy the mothers whose grief is at 
least free from this fearful struggle of 
opposing ideals and traditions. My old 
father, who is filled with a solemn pride 
over his grandson's gallant record and 
death, is most impatient with me. I 
heard him telling a friend the other day 
that my present state of mind was a pure 
demonstration of the folly of higher educa- 
tion for women ; that it was preposterous 
and more than human flesh could bear to 
combine an intellectual question on the 
function of government with a mother's 
sharp agony over the death of her child. 
He said he had always contended that 
women, at least those who bear children, 
had no business to consider questions of 
this sort, and that the good sense of his 
position was demonstrated now that such 
women were losing their children in war. 



CHALLENGING WAR 123 

It was enough for women to know that 
government waged war to protect their 
firesides and to preserve the nation from 
annihilation; at any rate, they should 
keep their minds free from silly attempts 
to reason it out. It's all Bertha von Sutt- 
ner's book and other nonsense that the 
women are writing, he exploded at the end." 
Then as if she were following another line 
of reminiscence she began again. "My son 
left behind him a war bride, for he obeyed 
the admonition of the statesmen, as well as 
the commands of the military officers in 
those hurried heroic days. But the hasty 
wooing betrayed all his ideals of marriage 
quite as fighting men of other nations did 
violence to his notions of patriotism, and 
the recklessness of a destructive air raid 
outraged his long devotion to science. Of 
course his child will be a comfort to us and 
his poor little bride is filled with a solemn 
patriotism which never questions any as- 
pect of the situation. When she comes to 
see us and I listen to the interminable talk 
she has with my father, I am grateful for 
the comfort they give each other, but when 



124 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

I hear them repeating those hideous stories 
of the conduct of the enemy which ac- 
cumulate every month and upon which the 
war spirit continually feeds itself, I with 
difficulty refrain from crying out upon them 
that he whose courage and devotion they 
praise so loudly would never have per- 
mitted such talk of hatred and revenge in 
his presence ; that he who lived in the 
regions of science and whose intrepid mind 
was bent upon the conquest of truth, must 
feel that he had died in vain did he know 
to what exaggerations and errors the so- 
called patriotism of his beloved country 
had stooped. 

"I listen to them thinking that if I 
were either older or younger it would not 
be so hard for me, and I have an unreal 
impression that it would have been easier 
for my son if the war had occurred in the 
first flush of his adventurous youth. Eager 
as he had been to serve his country, he 
would not then have asked whether it 
could best be accomplished by losing his 
life in a scouting aeroplane or by dedicat- 
ing a trained mind to industrial ameliora- 



CHALLENGING WAR 125 

tion. He might then easily have preferred 
the first and he certainly would never 
have been tormented by doubts. But 
when he was thirty-one years old and had 
long known that he was steadily serving 
his country through careful researches, the 
results of which would both increase the 
nation's productivity and protect its hum- 
blest citizens, he could not do otherwise 
than to judge and balance social values. I 
am, of course, proud of his gallant spirit, 
that did not for a moment regret his deci- 
sion to die for his country, but I can make 
the sacrifice seem in character only when I 
place him back in his early youth. 

"At times I feel immeasurably old, and 
in spite of my father's contention that I 
am too intellectual, I am consciously dom- 
inated by one of those overwhelming im- 
pulses belonging to women as such, irre- 
spective of their mental training, in their 
revolt against war. After all, why should 
one disregard such imperative instincts ? 
We know perfectly well that the trend of 
a given period in history has been influenced 
by 'habits of preference' and by instinc- 



126 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

tive actions founded upon repeated and un- 
recorded experiences of an analogous kind ; 
that desires to seek and desires to avoid 
are in themselves the very incalculable 
material by which the tendencies of an age 
are modified. The women in all the bel- 
ligerent countries who feel so alike in re- 
gard to the horror and human waste of 
this war and yet refrain from speaking out, 
may be putting into jeopardy that power 
inherent in human affairs to right them- 
selves through mankind's instinctive shift- 
ing towards what the satisfactions recom- 
mend and the antagonisms repulse. The 
expression of such basic impulses in regard 
to human relationships may be most im- 
portant in this moment of warfare which 
is itself a reversion to primitive methods 
of determining relations between man and 
man or nation and nation. 

"Certainly the women in every country 
who are under a profound imperative to 
preserve human life, have a right to regard 
this maternal impulse as important now as 
was the compelling instinct evinced by 
primitive women long ago, when they made 



CHALLENGING WAR 127 

the first crude beginnings of society by re- 
fusing to share the vagrant life of man be- 
cause they insisted upon a fixed abode in 
which they might cherish their children. 
Undoubtedly women were then told that 
the interests of the tribe, the diminishing 
food supply, the honor of the chieftain, 
demanded that they leave their particular 
caves and go out in the wind and weather 
without regard to the survival of their 
children. But at the present moment the 
very names of the tribes and of the honors 
and glories which they sought are for- 
gotten, while the basic fact that the mothers 
held the lives of their children above all 
else, insisted upon staying where the chil- 
dren had a chance to live, and cultivated 
the earth for their food, laid the founda- 
tions of an ordered society. 

My son used to say that my scientific 
knowledge was most irregular, but profound 
experiences such as we are having in this war 
throw to the surface of one's mind all sorts 
of opinions and half-formed conclusions. 
The care for conventions, for agreement 
with one's friends, is burned away. One is 



128 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

concerned to express only ultimate con- 
viction even though it may differ from all 
the rest of the world. This is true in spite 
of the knowledge that every word will be 
caught up in an atmosphere of excitement 
and of that nervous irritability which is 
always close to grief and to moments of high 
emotion. 

"In the face of many distressing mis- 
understandings I am certain that if a 
minority of women in every country would 
clearly express their convictions they would 
find that they spoke not for themselves 
alone but for those men for whom the 
war has been a laceration, 'an abdication 
of the spirit/ Such women would doubt- 
less formulate the scruples of certain soldiers 
whose 'mouths are stopped by courage/ 
men who months ago with closed eyes 
rushed to the defence of their countries. 

"It may also be true that as the early 
days of this war fused us all into an over- 
whelming sense of solidarity until each 
felt absolutely at one with all his fellow- 
countrymen, so the sensitiveness to differ- 
ences is greatly intensified and the dis- 



CHALLENGING WAR 129 

senting individual has an exaggerated sense 
of isolation. I try to convince myself that 
this is the explanation of my abominable 
and constant loneliness, which is almost 
unendurable. 

"I have never been a Feminist and 
have always remained quite unmoved by 
the talk of the peculiar contribution women 
might make to the State, but during the 
last dreadful months, in spite of women's 
widespread enthusiasm for the war and 
their patriotic eagerness to make the su- 
preme sacrifice, I have become conscious of 
an unalterable cleavage between Militarism 
and Feminism. The Militarists believe that 
government finally rests upon a basis of 
physical force, and in a crisis such as this, 
Militarism, in spite of the spiritual passion 
in war, finds its expression in the crudest 
forms of violence. 

" It would be absurd for women even to 
suggest equal rights in a world governed 
solely by physical force, and Feminism must 
necessarily assert the ultimate supremacy 
of moral agencies. Inevitably the two are 
in eternal opposition. 



130 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

"I have always agreed with the Fem- 
inists that, so far as force plays a great part 
in the maintenance of an actual social order, 
it is due to the presence of those elements 
which are in a steady process of elimination ; 
and of course as society progresses the 
difficulty arising from woman's inferiority 
in physical strength must become propor- 
tionately less. One of the most wretched 
consequences of war is that it arrests these 
beneficent social processes and throws 
everything back into a coarser mould. The 
fury of war, enduring but for a few months 
or years, may destroy slow-growing social 
products which it will take a century to 
recreate the 'consent of the governed/ 
for instance. . . . 

But why do I talk like this ! My father 
would call it one of my untrained and 
absurd theories about social progress and 
the functions of government concerning 
which I know nothing, and would say 
that I had no right to discuss the matter 
in this time of desperate struggle. Never- 
theless it is better for me in these hideous 
long days and nights to drive my mind 



CHALLENGING WAR 131 

forward even to absurd conclusions than 
to let it fall into one of those vicious circles 
in which it goes round and round to no 
purpose." 

In absolute contrast to this sophisti- 
cated, possibly oversophisticated, mother 
was a simple woman who piteously showed 
me a piece of shrapnel taken from her son's 
body by his comrades, which they had 
brought home to her in a literal-minded at- 
tempt at comfort. They had told her that 
the shrapnel was made in America and she 
showed it to me, believing that I could at 
sight recognize the manufactured products 
of my fellow-countrymen. She apparently 
wished to have the statement either con- 
firmed or denied, because she was utterly 
bewildered in her feeling about the United 
States and all her previous associations with 
it. In her fresh grief, stricken as she was, 
she was bewildered by a sudden reversal 
of her former ideals. Many of her rela- 
tives had long ago emigrated to America, 
including two brothers living in the Western 
states, whom she had hoped to visit in her 
old age. For many reasons, throughout 



132 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

her youth and early womanhood, she had 
thought of that far-away country as a 
kindly place where every man was given 
his chance and where the people were all 
friendly to each other irrespective of the 
land in which they had been born. To 
have these same American people send 
back the ammunition which had killed her 
son was apparently incomprehensible to her. 
She presented, it seemed to me, a clear 
case of that humble internationalism which 
is founded not upon theories, but upon 
the widespread immigration of the last 
fifty years, interlacing nation to nation 
with a thousand kindly deeds. Her older 
brother had a fruit ranch which bordered 
upon one of those co-operative Italian col- 
onies so successful in California, and he 
had frequently sent home presents from 
his Italian neighbors with his own little 
cargoes. The whole had evidently been 
prized by his family as a symbol of Ameri- 
can good-will and of unbounded opportu- 
nity. Her younger brother had attained 
some measure of success as a contractor in 
an inland town, and when he had written 



CHALLENGING WAR 133 

home of the polyglot composition of the 
gangs of men upon whose labors his little 
fortune had been founded, she had taken 
it as an example of all nationalities and 
religions working happily together. He 
had also served one term as mayor, ob- 
viously having been elected through his 
popularity with the same foreign colonies 
from which his employes had been drawn. 
For many reasons therefore she had vis- 
ualized America as a land in which all 
nationalities understood each other with a 
resulting friendliness which was not pos- 
sible in Europe, not because the people 
still living in Europe were different from 
those who had gone to America, but be- 
cause the latter, having emigrated, had a 
chance to express their natural good-will 
for everybody. The nations at war in 
Europe suggested to her simple mind the 
long past days of her grandmother's youth 
when a Protestant threw stones at a Cath- 
olic just because he was "different." The 
religious liberty in America was evidently 
confused in her mind with this other 
liberalism in regard to national differences. 



134 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

Holding this conception of actual in- 
ternationalism as it had been evolved 
among simple people, crude and abortive 
though it was, she had been much more 
shocked by the fact that friendly Americans 
should make ammunition to be used for 
killing any human being than by the 
actual war itself, because the war was 
taking place in Europe, where it was still 
quite natural for a German to fight against 
a Frenchman or an Italian against an 
Austrian. 

Her son had been a Socialist and from 
the discussions he sometimes held with 
his comrades in her house, she had grown 
familiar with certain phrases which she had 
taken literally and in some curious fashion 
had solemnly come to believe were put 
into practice in her El Dorado of America. 

The arguments I had used so many 
times with her fellow-countrymen to justify 
America's sale of ammunition, ponderously 
beginning with The Hague conventions 
of 1907, I found useless in the face of 
this idealistic version of America's good- 
will. 



CHALLENGING WAR 135 

She was evidently one of those people 
whose affections go out to groups and im- 
personal causes quite as much as to indi- 
viduals, thus often supplementing and 
enlarging harsh and narrow conditions of 
living. She certainly obtained a curiously 
personal comfort out of her idealization of 
America. Her conversation revealed what 
I had often vaguely felt before when men 
as well as women talked freely of the war, 
that her feelings had been hurt, that her 
very conception of human nature had re- 
ceived a sharp shock and set-back. To her 
the whole world and America in particular 
would henceforth seem less kind and her 
spirit would be less at home. She was 
tormented by that ever recurring question 
which perhaps can never be answered for 
any of us too confidently in the affirmative, 
"Is the Universe friendly ?" The troubled 
anguish in her old eyes confirmed her 
statement that the thought of the multi- 
tude of men who were being killed all 
over the world oppressed her day and 
night. This old woman had remained 
faithful to the cause of moral unity and 



136 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

bore her humble testimony to one of the 
noblest and profoundest needs of the human 
spirit. 

These efforts at spiritual adjustment 
necessitated by the war are attempted by 
many people, from the simple souls whose 
hard-won conceptions of a friendly universe 
have been brought tumbling about their 
ears, to the thinking men who are openly 
disappointed to find civilized nations so 
irrational. Such efforts are encountered 
in all the belligerent nations as well as in 
the neutral ones, although in the former 
they are often inhibited and overlaid by 
an overwhelming patriotism. Neverthe- 
less, as I met those women who were bearing 
their hardships and sorrows so courage- 
ously, I often caught a glimpse of an in- 
ner struggle, as if two of the most funda- 
mental instincts, the two responsible for 
our very development as human beings, 
were at strife with each other. The first 
is tribal loyalty, such unquestioning ac- 
ceptance of the tribe's morals and stand- 
ards that the individual automatically fights 
when the word comes ; the second is 



CHALLENGING WAR 137 

woman's deepest instinct, that the child 
of her body must be made to live. 

We are told that the peasants in Flanders, 
whose fields border upon the very trenches, 
disconsolately came back to them last 
Spring and continued to plough the familiar 
soil, regardless of the rain of shrapnel fall- 
ing into the fresh furrows ; that the wine 
growers of Champagne last Autumn in- 
sistently gathered their ripened grapes, 
though the bombs of rival armies were 
exploding in their vineyards ; why should 
it then be surprising that certain women 
in every country have remained steadfast 
to their old occupation of nurturing life, 
that they have tenaciously held to their 
anxious concern that men should live, 
through all the contagion and madness of 
the war fever which is infecting the nations 
of the earth. 

In its various manifestations the strug- 
gle in women's souls suggests one of those 
movements through which, at long his- 
toric intervals, the human spirit has ap- 
parently led a revolt against itself, as it 
were, exhibiting a moral abhorrence for 



138 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

certain cherished customs which, up to 
that time, had been its finest expression. 
A moral rebellion of this sort was inaugu- 
rated three thousand years ago both in 
Greece and Judea against the old custom 
of human sacrifice. That a man should 
slay his own child and stand unmoved 
as the burning flesh arose to his gods 
was an act of piety, of courage, and of 
devotion to ideals, so long as he performed 
the rite wholeheartedly. But after there 
had gradually grown up in the minds of 
men first the suspicion, and then the con- 
viction, that it was unnecessary and im- 
pious to offer human flesh as a living sac- 
rifice, courage and piety shifted to the 
men who refused to conform to this long- 
established custom. At last both the Greeks 
and the Jews guarded themselves against 
the practice of human sacrifice with every 
possible device. It gradually became ut- 
terly abhorrent to all civilized peoples, an 
outrage against the elemental decencies, a 
profound disturber of basic human rela- 
tions. Poets and prophets were moved 
to call it an abomination ; statesmen and 



CHALLENGING WAR 139 

teachers denounced it as a hideous bar- 
barism, until now it is so nearly abolished 
by the entire race that it is no longer 
found within the borders of civilization and 
exists to-day only in jungles and hidden 
savage places. 

There are indications that the human 
consciousness is reaching the same stage 
of sensitiveness in regard to war as that 
which has been attained in regard to human 
sacrifice. In this moment of almost uni- 
versal warfare there is evinced a widespread 
moral abhorrence against war, as if its very 
existence were more than human nature 
could endure. Citizens of every nation are 
expressing this moral compunction, which 
they find in sharp conflict with current 
conceptions of patriotic duty. It is per- 
haps inevitable that women should be 
challenged in regard to it, should be called 
upon to give it expression in such stirring 
words as those addressed to them by 
Romain Rolland, "Cease to be the shadow 
of man and of his passion of pride and 
destruction. Have a clear vision of the 
duty of pity ! Be a living peace in the 



140 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

midst of war the eternal Antigone re- 
fusing to give herself up to hatred and 
knowing no distinction between her suffer- 
ing brothers who make war on each other." 
This may be a call to women to defend 
those at the bottom of society who, irrespec- 
tive of the victory or defeat of any army, 
are ever oppressed and overburdened. The 
suffering mothers of the disinherited feel 
the stirring of the old impulse to protect 
and cherish their unfortunate children, and 
women's haunting memories instinctively 
challenge war as the implacable enemy of 
their age-long undertaking. 



CHAPTER VI 

A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN INTERPRE- 
TATIVE MEMORY 

SEVERAL years ago, during a winter spent 
in Egypt, I found within myself an unex- 
pected tendency to interpret racial and 
historic experiences through personal rem- 
iniscences. I am therefore venturing to 
record in this closing chapter my inevitable 
conclusion that a sincere portrayal of a 
widespread and basic emotional experience, 
however remote in point of time it may be, 
has the power overwhelmingly to evoke 
memories of like moods in the individual. 

The unexpected revival in my memory 
of long-forgotten experiences may have 
been due partly to the fact that we have 
so long been taught that the temples and 
tombs of ancient Egypt are the very earliest 
of the surviving records of ideas and men, 
that we approach them with a certain 

141 



142 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

sense of familiarity, quite ready to claim 
a share in these "family papers and title 
deeds of the race." 

We also consider it probable that these 
primitive human records will stir within 
us certain early states of consciousness, 
having learned, with the readiness which so 
quickly attaches itself to the pseudo-sci- 
entific phrase, that every child repeats in 
himself the history of the race. Never- 
theless, what I, at least, was totally un- 
prepared to encounter, was the constant 
revival of primitive and overpowering emo- 
tions which I had experienced so long ago 
that they had become absolutely detached 
from myself and seemed to belong to 
some one else to a small person with whom 
I was no longer intimate, and who was 
certainly not in the least responsible for 
my present convictions and reflections. 
It gradually became obvious that the 
ancient Egyptians had known this small 
person quite intimately and had most 
seriously and naively set down upon the 
walls of their temples and tombs her ear- 
liest reactions in the presence of death. 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 143 

At moments my adult intelligence would 
be unexpectedly submerged by the emo- 
tional message which was written there. 
Rising to the surface like a flood, this 
primitive emotion would sweep away both 
the historic record and the adult conscious- 
ness interested in it, leaving only a child's 
mind struggling through an experience 
which it found overwhelming. 

It may have been because these records 
of the early Egyptians are so endlessly 
preoccupied with death, portraying man's 
earliest efforts to defeat it, his eager de- 
sire to survive, to enter by force or by 
guile into the heavens of the western sky, 
that the mind is pushed back into that 
earliest childhood when the existence of the 
soul, its exact place of residence in the body, 
its experiences immediately after death, 
its journeyings upward, its relation to its 
guardian angel, so often afforded material 
for the crudest speculation. In the ob- 
scure renewal of these childish fancies, 
there is nothing that is definite enough to 
be called memory : it is rather that Egypt 
reproduces a state of consciousness which 



144 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

has so absolutely passed into oblivion that 
only the most powerful stimuli could re- 
vive it. 

This revival doubtless occurs more easily 
because these early records in relief and 
color not only suggest in their subject- 
matter that a child has been endowed with 
sufficient self-consciousness to wish to write 
down his own state of mind upon a wall, 
but also because the very primitive style 
of drawing to which the Egyptians adhered 
long after they had acquired a high degree 
of artistic freedom, is the most natural 
technique through which to convey so 
simple and archaic a message. The square 
shoulders of the men, the stairways done 
in profile, and a hundred other details, 
constantly remind one of a child's draw- 
ings. It is as if the Egyptians had pains- 
takingly portrayed everything that a child 
has felt in regard to death, and having, dur- 
ing the process, gradually discovered the 
style of drawing naturally employed by a 
child, had deliberately stiffened it into an 
unchanging convention. The result is that 
the traveller, reading in these drawings 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 145 

which stretch the length of three thousand 
years, the long endeavor to overcome 
death, finds that the experience of the two 
the child and the primitive people often 
become confused, or rather that they are 
curiously interrelated. 

This begins from the moment the trav- 
eller discovers that the earliest tombs sur- 
viving in Egypt, the mastabas, which 
resemble the natural results of a child's 
first effort to place one stone upon another, 
are concerned only with size, as if that 
early crude belief in the power of physical 
bulk to protect the terrified human being 
against all shadowy evils were absolutely 
instinctive and universal. The mastabas 
gradually develop into the pyramids, of 
which Breasted says that "they are not 
only the earliest emergence of organized 
men and the triumph of concerted effort, 
they are likewise a silent, but eloquent, 
expression of the supreme endeavor to 
achieve immortality by sheer physical 
force." Both the mastabas at Sahkara 
and the pyramids at Gizeh, in the sense 
of Tolstoy's definition of art as that which 



146 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

reproduces in the spectator the state of 
consciousness of the artist, at once appeal 
to the child surviving in every adult, who 
insists irrationally, after the manner of 
children, upon sympathizing with the at- 
tempt to shut out death by strong walls. 

Certainly we can all vaguely remember, 
when death itself, or stories of ghosts, had 
come to our intimate child's circle, that 
we went about saying to ourselves that 
we were "not afraid," that it "could not 
come here/ 5 that "the door was locked, 
the windows tight shut," that "this was a 
big house," and a great deal more talk of 
a similar sort. 

In the presence of these primitive at- 
tempts to defeat death, and without the 
conscious aid of memory, I found myself 
living over the emotions of a child six years 
old, saying some such words as I sat on the 
middle of the stairway in my own home, 
which yet seemed alien because all the 
members of the family had gone to the 
funeral of a relative and would not be 
back until evening, "long after you are in 
bed," they had said. In this moment of 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 147 

loneliness and horror, I depended absolutely 
upon the brick walls of the house to keep 
out the prowling terror, and neither the 
talk of kindly Polly, who awkwardly and 
unsuccessfully reduced an unwieldy the- 
ology to child-language, nor the strings of 
paper dolls cut by a visitor, gave me the 
slightest comfort. Only the blank wall of 
the stairway seemed to afford protection in 
this bleak moment against the formless 
peril. 

Doubtless these huge tombs were built 
to preserve from destruction the royal 
bodies which were hidden within them at 
the end of tortuous and carefully con- 
cealed passages ; but both the gigantic 
structures in the vicinity of Memphis, and 
the everlasting hills, which were later 
utilized at Thebes, inevitably give the im- 
pression that death is defied and shut out 
by massive defences. 

Even when the traveller sees that the 
Egyptians defeated their object by the 
very success of the Gizeh pyramids for 
when their overwhelming bulk could not 
be enlarged and their bewildering labyrinths 



148 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

could not be multiplied, effort along that 
line perforce ceased -- there is something 
in the next attempt of the Egyptians to 
overcome death which the child within us 
again recognizes as an old experience. 
One who takes pains to inquire concerning 
the meaning of the texts which were in- 
scribed on the inner walls of the pyramids 
and the early tombs, finds that the familiar 
terror of death is still there although ex- 
pressed somewhat more subtly ; that the 
Egyptians are trying to outwit death by 
magic tricks. 

These texts arc designed to teach the 
rites that redeem a man from death and 
insure his continuance of life, not only 
beyond the grave but in the grave itself. 
"He who sayeth this chapter and who has 
been justified in the waters of Natron, he 
shall come forth the day after his burial." 
Because to recite them was to fight suc- 
cessfully against the enemies of the dead, 
these texts came to be inscribed on tombs, 
on coffins, and on the papyrus hung around 
the neck of a mummy. But woe to the 
man who was buried without the texts : 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 149 

"He who knoweth not this chapter cannot 
come forth by day." Access to Paradise 
and all its joys was granted to any one, 
good or bad, who knew the formulae, for 
in the first stages of Egyptian develop- 
ment, as in all other civilizations, the gods 
did not concern themselves with the con- 
duct of a man toward other men, but solely 
with his duty to the gods themselves. 

The magic formulae alone afforded pro- 
tection against the shadowy dangers await- 
ing the dead man when first he entered 
the next world and enabled him to over- 
come the difficulties of his journey. The 
texts taught him how to impersonate par- 
ticular gods and by this subterfuge to over- 
come the various foes he must encounter, 
because these foes, having at one time been 
overcome by the gods, were easily terrified 
by such pretence. 

When I found myself curiously sympa- 
thetic with this desire "to pretend/' and 
with the eager emphasis attached by the 
Egyptians to their magic formulae, I was 
inclined to put it down to that secret sympa- 
thy with magic by means of which all chil- 



150 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

dren, in moments of rebellion against a 
humdrum world, hope to wrest something 
startling and thrilling out of the environing 
realm of the supernatural ; but beyond a 
kinship with this desire to placate the evil 
one, to overcome him by mysterious words, 
I found it baffling to trace my sympathy to 
a definite experience. Gradually, however, 
it emerged, blurred in certain details, sur- 
prisingly alive in others, but all of it suf- 
fused with the selfsame emotions which 
impelled the Egyptian to write his Book of 
the Dead. 

To describe it as a spiritual struggle is 
to use much too dignified and definite a 
term ; it was the prolonged emotional 
stress throughout one cold winter when re- 
vival services-- protracted meetings, they 
were then called were held in the vil- 
lage church night after night. I was, of 
course, not permitted to attend them, but 
I heard them talked about a great deal by 
simple adults and children, who told of 
those who shouted aloud for joy, or lay on 
the floor "stiff with power" because they 
were saved ; and of others it was for 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 151 

those others that my heart was wrung - 
who, although they wrestled with the 
spirit until midnight and cried out that 
they felt the hot breath of hell upon their 
cheeks, could not find salvation. Would 
it do to pretend ? I anxiously asked my- 
self, why didn't they say the right words so 
that they could get up from the mourners' 
bench and sit with the other people, who 
must feel so sorry for them that they 
would let them pretend ? What were these 
words that made such a difference that to 
say them was an assurance of heavenly 
bliss, but if you failed to say them you 
burned in hell forever and ever ? Was 
the preacher the only one who knew them 
for sure ? Was it possible to find them 
without first kneeling at the mourners' 
bench and groaning ? These words must 
certainly be in the Bible somewhere, and if 
one read it out loud all through, every 
word, one must surely say the right words 
in time ; but if one died before one was 
grown up enough to read the Bible through 
to-night, for instance what would hap- 
pen then ? Surely nothing else could be so 



152 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

important as these words of salvation. 
While I did not exactly scheme to secure 
them, I was certainly restrained only by 
my impotence, and I anxiously inquired 
from everyone what these magic words 
might be ; and only gradually did this 
childish search for magic protection from 
the terrors after death imperceptibly merge 
into a concern for the fate of the soul. 

Perhaps, because it is so impossible to 
classify one's own childish experiences or 
to put them into chronological order, the 
traveller at no time feels a lack of consist- 
ency in the complicated attitude toward 
death which is portrayed on the walls of 
the Egyptian temples and tombs. Much 
of it seems curiously familiar ; from the 
earliest times, the Egyptians held the be- 
lief that there is in man a permanent ele- 
ment which survives it is the double, the 
Ka, the natural soul in contradistinction 
to the spiritual soul, which fits exactly 
into the shape of the body but is not 
blended with it. In order to save this 
double from destruction, the body must be 
preserved in a recognizable form. 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 153 

This insistence upon the preservation of 
the body among the Egyptians, antedating 
their faith in magic formulae, clearly had 
its origin, as in the case of the child, in a 
desperate revolt against the destruction of 
the visible man. 

Owing to this continued insistence upon 
corporeal survival, the Egyptians at length 
carried the art of embalming to such a 
state of perfection that mummies of royal 
personages are easily recognized from their 
likenesses to portrait statues. Such con- 
fidence did they have in their own increas- 
ing ability to withhold the human frame 
from destruction that many of the texts 
inscribed on the walls of the tombs assure 
the dead man himself that he is not dead, 
and endeavor to convince his survivors 
against the testimony of their own senses ; 
or rather, they attempt to deceive the 
senses. The texts endlessly repeat the same 
assertion, "Thou comest not dead to thy 
sepulchre, thou . comest living"; and yet 
the very reiteration, as well as the decora- 
tions upon the walls of every tomb, portray 
a primitive terror lest after all the body be 



154 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

destroyed and the element of life be lost 
forever. One's throat goes dry over this 
old fear of death expressed by men who 
have been so long dead that there is no 
record of them but this, no surviving docu- 
ment of their once keen reactions to life. 

Doubtless the Egyptians in time over- 
came this primitive fear concerning the dis- 
appearance of the body, as we all do, al- 
though each individual is destined to the 
same devastating experience. The memory 
of mine came back to me vividly as I stood 
in an Egyptian tomb : I was a tiny child 
making pothooks in the village school, 
when one day it must have been in the 
full flush of Spring, for I remember the 
crab-apple blossoms during the afternoon 
session, the ABC class was told that its 
members would march all together to the 
burial of the mother of one of the littlest 
girls. Of course, I had been properly 
taught that people went to heaven when 
they died and that their bodies were buried 
in the cemetery, but I was not at all clear 
about it, and I was certainly totally un- 
prepared to see what appeared to be the 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 155 

person herself put deep down into the 
ground. The knowledge came to me so 
suddenly and brutally that for weeks after- 
ward the days were heavy with a nameless 
oppression and the nights were filled with 
horror. 

The cemetery was hard by the school- 
house, placed there, it had always been 
whispered among us, to make the bad 
boys afraid. Thither the ABC class, in 
awestruck procession, each child carefully 
holding the hand of another, was led by 
the teacher to the edge of the open grave 
and bidden to look on the still face of the 
little girl's mother. 

Our poor knees quaked and quavered as 
we stood shelterless and unattended by 
family protection or even by friendly grown- 
ups ; for the one tall teacher, while clearly 
visible, seemed inexpressively far away as 
we kept an uncertain footing on the freshly 
spaded earth, hearing the preacher's voice, 
the sobs of the motherless children, and, 
crowning horror of all, the hollow sound of 
three clods of earth dropped impressively 
upon the coffin lid. 



156 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

After endless ages the service was over 
and we were allowed to go down the long 
hill into the familiar life of the village. 
But a new terror awaited me even there, 
for our house stood at the extreme end 
of the street and the last of the way 
home was therefore solitary. I remem- 
ber a breathless run from the blacksmith 
shop, past the length of our lonely or- 
chard until the carriage-house came in 
sight, through whose wide-open doors I 
could see a man moving about. One last 
panting effort brought me there, and after 
my spirit had been slightly reassured by 
conversation, I took a circuitous route to 
the house that I might secure as much 
companionship as possible on the way. I 
stopped at the stable to pat an old horse 
who stood munching in his stall, and again 
to throw a handful of corn into the poultry 
yard. The big turkey gobbler who came 
greedily forward gave me great comfort 
because he was so absurd and awkward 
that no one could possibly associate him 
with anything so solemn as death. I went 
into the kitchen where the presiding genius 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 157 

allowed me to come without protest al- 
though the family dog was at my heels. 
I felt constrained to keep my arms about 
his shaggy neck while trying to talk of 
familiar things would the cake she was 
making be baked in the little round tins or 
in the big square one ? But although these 
idle words were on my lips, I wanted to cry 
out, "Their mother is dead ; whatever, 
whatever will the children do?" These 
words, which I had overheard as we came 
away from the graveyard, referred doubtless 
to the immediate future of the little family, 
but in my mind were translated into a de- 
mand for definite action on the part of 
the children against this horrible thing 
which had befallen their mother. 

It was with no sense of surprise that I 
found this long-forgotten experience spread 
before my eyes on the walls of a tomb 
built four thousand years ago into a sandy 
hill above the Nile, at Assuan. The man 
so long dead, who had prepared the tomb 
for himself, had carefully ignored the grim- 
ness of death. He is portrayed as going 
about his affairs surrounded by his family, 



158 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

his friends, and his servants ; grain is being 
measured before him into his warehouse, 
while a scribe by his side registers the 
amount ; the herdsmen lead forth cattle 
for his inspection ; two of them, enraged 
bulls, paying no attention to the sombre 
implication of tomb decoration, lower their 
huge heads, threatening each other as if 
there were no such thing as death in the 
world. Indeed, the builder of the tomb 
seems to have liked the company of ani- 
mals, perhaps because they were so in- 
curious concerning death. His dogs are 
around him, he stands erect in a boat from 
which he spears fish, and so on from one 
marvelous relief to another, but all the 
time your heart contracts for him, and you 
know that in the midst of this elaborately 
prepared nonchalance he is miserably ter- 
rified by the fate which may be in store for 
him, and is trying to make himself believe 
that he need not leave all this wonted and 
homely activity; that if his body is but 
properly preserved he will be able to enjoy 
it forever. 
Although the Egyptians, in their natural 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 159 

desire to cling to the familiar during the 
strange experience of death, portrayed upon 
the walls of their tombs many domestic 
and social habits whose likeness to our own 
household life gives us the quick satis- 
faction with which the traveller encounters 
the familiar and wonted in a strange land, 
such a momentary thrill is quite unlike the 
abiding sense of kinship which is founded 
upon the unexpected similarity of ideas, 
and it is the latter which are encountered 
in the tombs of the eighteenth century 
dynasty. The paintings portray a great 
hall, at the end of which sits Osiris, the 
god who had suffered death on earth, 
awaiting those who come before him for 
judgment. In the center of the hall stands 
a huge balance in which the hearts of men 
are weighed, once more reminiscent of a 
childish conception, making clear that as 
the Egyptians became more anxious and 
scrupulous they gradually made the des- 
tiny of man dependent upon morality, and 
finally directed the souls of men to heaven 
or hell according to their merits. 
There is a theory that the tremendous 



160 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

results of good and evil, in the earliest 
awakening to them, were first placed in the 
next world by a primitive people sore per- 
plexed as to the partialities and injustices 
of mortal life. This simple view is doubt- 
less the one the child naturally takes. In 
Egypt I was so vividly recalled to my first 
apprehension of it, that the contention that 
the very belief in immortality is but the 
postulate of the idea of reward and retri- 
bution, seemed to me at the moment a 
perfectly reasonable one. 

The incident of my childhood around 
which it had formulated itself was very 
simple. I had been sent with a message 
an important commission it seemed to 
me to the leader of the church choir 
that the hymn selected for the doctor's 
funeral was "How blest the righteous 
when he dies." The village street was so 
strangely quiet under the summer sun that 
even the little particles of dust beating in 
the hot air were more noiseless than ever 
before. Frightened by the noonday still- 
ness and instinctively seeking companion- 
ship, I hurried toward two women who 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 161 

were standing at a gate talking in low tones. 
In their absorption they paid no attention 
to my somewhat wistful greeting, but I 
heard one of them say with a dubious 
shake of the head that "he had never 
openly professed nor joined the church," 
and in a moment I understood that she 
thought the doctor would not go to heaven. 
What else did it mean, that half-threaten- 
ing tone ? Of course the doctor was good, 
as good as any one could be. Only a few 
weeks before he had given me a new penny 
when he had pulled my tooth, and once I 
heard him drive by in the middle of the 
night when he took a beautiful baby to 
the miller's house ; he went to the farms 
miles and miles away when people were 
sick, and everybody sent for him the 
minute they were in trouble. How could 
any one be better than that ? 

In defiant contrast to the whispering 
women, there arose in my mind, composed 
doubtless of various Bible illustrations, the 
picture of an imposing white-robed judge 
seated upon a golden throne, who listened 
gravely to all those good deeds as they were 



162 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

read by the recording angel from his great 
book, and then sent the doctor straight to 
heaven. 

I dimly felt the challenge of the fine old 
hymn in its claim of blessings for the 
righteous, and was defiantly ready at the 
moment to combat the theology of the 
entire community. Of my own claim to 
heaven I was most dubious, and I simply 
could not bring myself to contemplate the 
day when my black sins should be read 
aloud from the big book; but when the 
claim of reward in the next world for well- 
doing in this, came to me in regard to one 
whose righteousness was undoubted, I was 
eager to champion him before all mankind 
and even before the judges in the shadowy 
world to come. 

This state of mind, this mood of trucu- 
lent discussion, was recalled by the wall 
paintings in the tomb of a nobleman in 
the Theban hills. In an agonized posture 
he awaits the outcome of his trial before 
Osiris. Thoth, the true scribe, records on 
the wall the just balance between the heart 
of the nobleman, which is in one pan of 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 163 

the scale, and the feather of truth which is 
in the other. The noble appeals to his 
heart, which has thus been separated from 
him, to stand by him during the weighing 
and not to bear testimony against him. 
"Oh, heart of my existence, rise not up 
against me ; be not an enemy against me 
before the divine powers ; thou art my Ka 
that is in my body, the heart that came to 
me from my mother." The noble even 
tries a bribe by reminding the Ka that his 
own chance of survival is dependent on his 
testimony at this moment. The entire ef- 
fort on the part of the man being tried is 
to still the voice of his own conscience, to 
maintain stoutly his innocence even to 
himself. 

The attitude of the self-justifying noble 
might easily have suggested those later 
childish struggles in which a sense of 
hidden guilt, of repeated failure in "being 
good/' plays so large a part, and humbles 
a child to the very dust. That the defi- 
nite reminiscence evoked by the tomb 
belonged to an earlier period of rebellion 
may indicate that the Egyptian had not 



164 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

yet learned to commune with his gods for 
spiritual refreshment. 

Whether it is that the long days and 
magical nights on the Nile lend themselves 
to a revival of former states of conscious- 
ness, or that I had come to expect land- 
marks of individual development in Egypt, 
or, more likely still, that I had fallen into 
a profoundly reminiscent mood, I am un- 
able to state ; but certainly, as the Nile 
boat approached nearer to him "who sleeps 
in Philae," something of the Egyptian feel- 
ing for Osiris, the god to whom was attrib- 
uted the romance of a hero and the char- 
acter of a benefactor and redeemer, came 
to me through long-forgotten sensations. 
Typifying the annual "great affliction," 
Osiris, who had submitted himself to death, 
mutilation, and burial in the earth, re- 
turned each Spring when the wheat and 
barley sprouted, bringing not only a 
promise of bread for the body but healing 
and comfort for the torn mind ; an in- 
timation that death itself is beneficent and 
may be calmly accepted as a necessary 
part of an ordered universe. 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 165 

Day after day, seeing the rebirth of the 
newly planted fields on the banks of the 
Nile, and touched by a fresh sense of 
the enduring miracle of Spring with its 
inevitable analogy to the vicissitudes of 
human experience, one dimly comprehends 
how the pathetic legends of Osiris, by pro- 
viding the Egyptian with an example for 
his own destiny, not only opened the way 
for a new meaning in life, but also gradually 
vanquished the terrors of death. 

Again there came a faint memory of a 
child's first apprehension that there may 
be poetry out-of-doors, of the discovery that 
myths have a foundation in natural phe- 
nomena, and at last a more definite rem- 
iniscence. 

I saw myself a child of twelve standing 
stock-still on the bank of a broad-flowing 
river, with a little red house surrounded 
by low-growing willows on its opposite 
bank, striving to account to myself for a 
curious sense of familiarity, for a con- 
viction that I had long ago known it all 
most intimately, although I had certainly 
never seen the Mississippi River before. 



166 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

I remember that, much puzzled and mysti- 
fied, at last I gravely concluded that it was 
one of those intimations of immortality 
that Wordsworth had written about, and 
I went back to my cousin's camp in so ex- 
alted a frame of mind that the memory of 
the evening light shining through the blades 
of young corn growing in a field passed on 
the way has remained with me for more 
than forty years. 

Was that fugitive sense of having lived 
before nearer to the fresher imaginations 
of the Egyptians, as it is nearer to the mind 
of a child ? and did the myth of Osiris 
make them more willing to die because the 
myth came to embody a confidence in this 
transitory sensation of continuous life ? 

Such ghosts of reminiscence, coming to 
the individual as he visits one after an- 
other of the marvellous human documents 
on the banks of the Nile, may be merely 
manifestations of that new humanism which 
is perhaps the most precious possession of 
this generation, the belief that no altar at 
which living men have once devoutly wor- 
shipped, no oracle to whom a nation long 



INTERPRETATIVE MEMORY 167 

ago appealed in its moments of dire con- 
fusion, no gentle myth in which former 
generations have found solace, can lose 
all significance for us, the survivors. 

Is it due to this same humanism that, 
in spite of the overweight of the tomb, 
Egypt never appears to the traveller as 
world-weary, or as a land of the dead ? 
Although the slender fellaheen, whom he 
sees all day pouring the water of the Nile 
on their parched fields, use the primitive 
shaduf of their remote ancestors, and the 
stately women bear upon their heads water- 
jars of a shape unchanged for three thou- 
sand years, modern Egypt refuses to be- 
long to the past and continually makes the 
passionate living appeal of those hard- 
pressed in the struggle for bread. 

Under the smoking roofs of the primi- 
tive clay houses lifted high above the level 
of the fields, because resting on the ruins 
of villages which have crumbled there from 
time immemorial, mothers feed their chil- 
dren, clutched by the old fear that there is 
not enough for each to have his portion; 
and the traveller comes to realize with a 



l68 LONG ROAD OF WOMAN'S MEMORY 

pang that the villages are built upon the 
bleak, barren places quite as the dead are 
always buried in the desert because no black 
earth can be spared, and that each new 
harvest, cut with sickles of a curve already 
ancient when Moses was born, in spite of 
its quick ripening, is garnered barely in 
time to save the laborer from actual star- 
vation. 

Certain it is that through these our liv- 
ing brothers, or through the unexpected 
reactions of memory to racial records, the 
individual detects the growth within of an 
almost mystical sense of the life common 
to all the centuries, and of the unceasing 
human endeavor to penetrate into the un- 
seen world. These records also afford 
glimpses into a past so vast that the pres- 
ent generation seems to float upon its sur- 
face as thin as a sheet of light which mo- 
mentarily covers the ocean and moves in 
response to the black waters beneath it. 



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Women at the Hague 

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ALICE HAMILTON 

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The official report of the International Congress of Women, convened at The 
Hague in April, 1915. Among the titles of the different chapters are noted the 
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A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil 

BY JANE ADDAMS 
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Jane Addaras has an understanding way of looking at things. Hers is not to 
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Democracy and Social Ethics 

BY JANE ADDAMS 

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" Its pages are remarkably we were about to say refreshingly free from 
the customary academic limitations . . . ; in fact, are the result of actual expe- 
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scription, for example, of the ' boss ' as he thrives to-day in our great cities has 
ever been written than is contained in Miss Addams's chapter on ' Political Re- 
form.' . . . The same thing may be said of the book in regard to the presenta- 
tion of social and economic facts." Review of Reviews. 

" Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the efficiency and inspiration afforded 
by these essays. . . . The book is startling, stimulating, and intelligent." 

Philadelphia Ledger. 

Twenty Years at Hull-House 

BY JANE ADDAMS 

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Jane Addams's work at Hull-House is known throughout the civilized world. 
In the present volume she tells of her endeavors and of their success of the 
beginning of Hull-House, of its growth and its present influence. For every one 
at all interested in the improvement of our cities, in the moral education of those 
who are forced to spend much of their time on the streets or in cheap places of 
amusement "Twenty Years at Hull-House" will be a volume of more than 
ordinary interest and value. 

The Spirit of Youth in the City Streets 

BY JANE ADDAMS 

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The Business of Being a Woman 

BY IDA M. TARBELL 

Cloth, i2tno, 

What is the business of being a woman ? Is it some- 
thing incompatible with the free and joyous develop- 
ment of one's talents ? Is there no place in it for eco- 
nomic independence ? Has it no essential relation to 
the world's movements ? Is it an episode which drains 
the forces and leaves a dreary wreck behind? Is it 
something that cannot be organized into a profession 
of dignity and opportunity for service and for happi- 
ness ? As will be seen from the above, Miss TarbelPs 
topic is a broad one, permitting her to discuss the 
political, social, and economic issues of to-day as they 
affect woman. Suffrage, Woman, and the Household, 
The Home as an Educational Center, the Homeless 
Daughter, Friendless Youth and the Irresponsible 
Woman these but suggest some of the lines of Miss 
Tarbell's thought. Though they may at first seem dis- 
connected, she has made out of them, because of their 
bearing on all of her sex, a powerful unified narrative. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

Democracy and Social Ethics 

BY JANE ADDAMS 

Cloth, i2mo, leather back, $1.25 

" Its pages are remarkably we were about to say refreshingly free from 
the customary academic limitations . . . ; in fact, are the result of actual expe- 
rience in hand-to-hand contact with social problems. . . . No more truthful de- 
scription, for example, of the ' boss ' as he thrives to-day in our great cities has 
ever been written than is contained in Miss Addams's chapter on ' Political Re- 
form.' . . . The same thing may be said of the book in regard to the presenta- 
tion of social and economic facts." Review of Reviews. 

" Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the efficiency and inspiration afforded 
by these essays. . . . The book is startling, stimulating, and intelligent." 

- Philadelphia Ledger. 

Twenty Years at Hull-House 

BY JANE ADDAMS 

New edition, ill., dec. cloth, 8vo, $1.50 

Jane Addams's work at Hull-House is known throughout the civilized world. 
In the present volume she tells of her endeavors and of their success of the 
beginning of Hull-House, of its growth and its present influence. For every one 
at all interested in the improvement of our cities, in the moral education of those 
who are forced to spend much of their time on the streets or in cheap places of 
amusement "Twenty Years at Hull-House" will be a volume of more than 
ordinary interest and value. 

The Spirit of Youth in the City Streets 

BY JANE ADDAMS 

I2mo, cloth, $1,23. Standard Library, $.50 

A protest against the practice of every large city of turning over to commer- 
cialism practically all the provisions for public recreation, leaving it possible for 
private greed to starve or demoralize the nature of youth. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 



The Business of Being a Woman 

BY IDA M. TARBELL 

Cloth, izrno, $1.25 

What is the business of being a woman ? Is it some- 
thing incompatible with the free and joyous develop- 
ment of one's talents ? Is there no place in it for eco- 
nomic independence ? Has it no essential relation to 
the world's movements ? Is it an episode which drains 
the forces and leaves a dreary wreck behind? Is it 
something that cannot be organized into a profession 
of dignity and opportunity for service and for happi- 
ness ? As will be seen from the above, Miss TarbelPs 
topic is a broad one, permitting her to discuss the 
political, social, and economic issues of to-day as they 
affect woman. Suffrage, Woman, and the Household, 
The Home as an Educational Center, the Homeless 
Daughter, Friendless Youth and the Irresponsible 
Woman these but suggest some of the lines of Miss 
Tarbell's thought. Though they may at first seem dis- 
connected, she has made out of them, because of their 
bearing on all of her sex, a powerful unified narrative. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork 



The Ways of Women 

BY IDA M. TARBELL 

Cloth, ismo, $1.00 

What are the activities and responsibilities of the 
average normal woman ? This is the question which 
Miss Tarbell considers in this book. Despite the 
change in the outward habits, conduct, points of view, 
and ways of doing things, which marks the present age, 
Miss Tarbell maintains that certain great currents of 
life still persist. To consider that these are lost in the 
new world of machines and systems is, she holds, only 
to study the surface. The relation to society and to 
the future of the old and common pursuits of the 
woman is her theme, which at once makes the volume 
appear as a sort of supplement to her previous work, 
" The Business of Being a Woman." 

"A book of hopeful, cheerful thoughts ... a very 
human book, worthy of careful reading." 

Literary Digest. 

" A striking exposition of present-day woman's ways." 
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